Living & Loving
The Rhythm Of Your Soul
Text Sonja Moore
Photographer Vanessa Van Vreden
IF YOU AND YOUR FAMILY NEED SOME QUALITY TIME OUT TO REBOOT YOUR BATTERIES, THEN AN AFTERNOON WITH THE DRUM CAFÉ COULD BE JUST THE TICKET
The living and loving team recently spent a fun afternoon at Johannesburg’s tranquil Zoo Lake in the company of the Drum Cafe (Social) and a bevy of energetic young children and their parents. Two of the drummers were integral to the ground-breaking audience-participation production, Drumstruck, which enthralled theatre-goers earlier this year.
We seated ourselves behind a semi-circle of Djembe drums, arranged in the shade of a beautiful old tree. Then suddenly, without ceremony, the drum facilitators burst into an exuberant beat which filled our souls with an ancient rhythm. Kids and parents alike were mesmerised by the hypnotic effect of the drums as we worked together to find a steady rhythm. Under the skilful guidance of the drummers, all gender and age barriers disappeared as we created a symphony of sound.
Centuries of sound
Drumming has been used as a means of communication in Africa for thousands of years to mark important occasions and to draw an emotional response from a crowd, for example, at births, weddings, funerals, celebrations and in preparation for battle. This wonderfully social group activity requires only a willingness to cooperate as part of a team. It’s a therapeutic way to relieve stress because you have to focus on the activity at hand, which immediately distances you from your problems so that you are living in the moment. Indeed, it’s almost a form of meditation, because your mind becomes empty and thus rested and rejuvenated. According to the Drum Cafe, all children and adults, as well as those with physical, social and intellectual problems, will benefit from drumming therapy. It’s also said to be perfect for introverts who have difficulty in relating to others and for those with emotional problems. Drumming is a powerful way to encourage a cooperative rather than competitive spirit between children and adults alike. And, it promotes hand, eye and ear coordination, and integrates left and right brain activity.
Actually drumming is good for anyone, of any age. The theory goes that the sound of drumming awakens your curiosity and speeds up your pulse, and when you play in a group the effect of the rhythm is said to be a synchronisation of energy. So when you hear and contribute to the beat of a group drumming, you are listening and playing, receptive and creative all at once. We felt the energising effects of our drumming session for the remainder of the day and the next! And a few of the participants were overheard planning a drumming session for their children’s birthday parties – and one dad’s 40th!
DJEMBE FACT FILE
Djembe drums hail from West Africa and are made of wood which has been hollowed out. The drums are tilted slightly when they are played to allow the rich sound to emanate from the bottom of the drum. They are covered with goatskin and produce two tones, one high and one low, depending on where the hand falls.
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