Beat it

Drum Your Stress Away

  • Jody Coakley plays the drum at the Concordia Multi-faith Chaplaincy. Photo Jessica Jaschek

Concordia’s Multi-faith Chaplaincy drum circle offers an escape from the mounting stress of midterms and the bone-chilling Montreal weather.

There you can create that unifying tempo, feel the beat of the West African djembe hand drum between your legs, slightly tilting it away from the floor to allow the vibrations to escape.

Laura Gallo, Interfaith Facilitator at the Multi-faith Chaplaincy, started the drum circle due to her passion for percussion.

More importantly, she was aware of the amazing ability that drumming has to bring people together—a fundamental characteristic that the chaplaincy aims for, according to her.

“People have to listen to each other, we have to communicate when we are sitting there in order to make it work, to me, that’s the beauty of it,” Gallo said. “You have to go inside yourself but also be aware of the people next to you.”

Everyone is welcome to drop by the chaplaincy to participate in the drum circle, no experience is necessary and the hand drums are provided. It can be intimidating if you’ve never played an instrument, or are plagued by bad memories of being forced to practice as a child, but people should not be discouraged.

“Anybody can smack a drum and within a few minutes, be a part of a song, part of a group of people playing and creating something together,” said Jody Coakley, a Concordia English literature student who is leading the drum circle this semester. “You just have to be willing to allow your creativity to flow and let go.”

Coakley was drawn to drums because of their rhythmic resemblance to heartbeats, an easy way to get into the relaxing zone. “Even the most angry, buried, upset with the world kind of person can find joy being a part of a musical ensemble,” he said.

Though the drum circle wasn’t created for therapeutic purposes, but rather as a safe space to bring students of all faiths together to create a spiritual dialogue, drumming participants cannot deny the relaxing feeling of the activity.

“It’s about finding your voice and being able to express it even if it’s small at first,” Gallo said.

Drumming allows an escape into your own spirituality, and in turn, you leave the circle feeling good. It can be a very empowering experience, creating group consciousness.

If you want to get in touch with your creative side, without judgment, forgetting about any worries or problems, the drum circle might be for you.

“Everything just disappears and you become the beat. It’s only complicated if you want it to be,” Coakley said.

As of fall 2016, Gallo will be looking for a new student leader to run the drum circle weekly. The position is open to any student—with or without experience. After a few sessions, anyone can become a pro at hand drums.

The position can be listed on the student’s co-curricular record if they lead the circle for the full year. Students interested can contact Laura Gallo through her email address at the chaplaincy.

Community Drum Circle // Every Monday // Multi-faith Chaplaincy, Z Annex (2090 Mackay St.) // 2 p.m. // Free

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