Moonfest, Full Moon
Tahaki Reserve, Mt Eden, Auckland
Since June 2009 we have
held Full Moon Drum, Fire and Dance gatherings at Tahaki reserve on the
side of Mt Eden in Auckland, unfortunately some of the local
residents did not appreciate us and so we had to cease these
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The Melt - Auckland, Dance and Drum Jam session
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What are "Drum
We'll let the man who originated
them tell you -
A tool for unity
The Community Drum Circle, in the context of how we are using it
within our non-professional hand drumming culture, is the most
basic and simple use of the drum and rhythm. It is the use of a
rhythm-based event as a tool for unity. A community drum circle
is a noisy and fun, family-friendly event, where people come
together in order share their spirit by entraining rhythmically
as a percussion ensemble. They empower each other in the art of
celebrating community and life through rhythm and music. People
of all levels of musical expertise come together and share their
rhythmical spirit with whatever drums and percussion they bring
to the event. Everyone who comes and participates has something
to offer the circle, and anyone is welcome.
The spirit and magic of rhythm expressed on drums and percussion
instruments cuts through all ages, sexes, religions, races and
cultures. “Rhythm,” as Gabriel Roth says, “is the mother
tongue.” Rhythm is a universal language known to everyone, even
the youngest child, if we can just “remember.” So in a very
objective, yet beautiful way, an interactive rhythm event puts
us all on an equal footing with each other and brings us closer
Co-operation and collaboration
Co-operation and collaboration is the basic glue to a
community. A community drum circle is a collaboratively
self-organized musical event created “in the moment” by all the
people who participate.
When we, as a community, drum together, sharing our spirit in
the form of rhythm, it changes our relationships for the
positive. As we play together, we give ourselves a rhythmical
massage, an emotional release and a healing. The
release and healing is different for every person in the rhythm
circle, and it happens whether we are entraining ourselves into
the circle by drumming, or standing outside the circle and
listening while tapping our feet and clapping along with the
music. To make beautiful music together, with rhythm
instruments, all we have to do is bring to the circle whatever
rhythmical expertise we have to offer, along with the excitement
of sharing it with other people,
You don’t have to be a drummer
People of all levels of musical expertise come together in a
community drum circle and share their rhythmical spirit, with
whatever drums and percussion they bring to the event. They
don’t have to be a drummer to participate. They don’t even have
to have a drum. They can play a plastic water bottle turned
upside down with the neck cut off. They can shake a soda can
with rocks in it or hit two sticks together. It is enough that
they are in the circle and participating.
One powerful voice
The quality of the music produced in an event like this is
not based on the rhythmical expertise of the players, but on the
quality of their relationship with the other people in the
circle. The result is those magical musical moments where one
powerful voice is created out of the many. In those moments, the
players stop worrying about keeping time because time, as they
know it, has stopped. In its place is a living breathing entity,
expressing timeless joy, passion and release through the power
That is the beauty of a community drum circle.
Steps To Better Community Drumming
Originally Published In DRUM! Magazine’s March/April 2011
Drum circle events of any kind are about the dynamic interaction
of musical and personal relationships. When involved in any
group rhythmic alchemy event, these relationships are based on a
simple set of unwritten guidelines. When adhered to, these
guidelines can help direct a group of players to their highest
musical potential, creating a fun and exciting musical
experience while enabling an individual to merge comfortably
into an ongoing drumming circle without being obtrusive.
In culturally specific circles, these unwritten guidelines have
been developed through centuries of ancestral evolution. They
can also apply to any contemporary western version of a drum
circle, from a “freeform” drum jam to a facilitated community
rhythm event. These unwritten musical and personal relationship
guidelines are contained within what I call “Drum Circle
Below are my standard “Arthurian” suggestions for playing in
most community drumming environments. By following these
guidelines for both beginners and experienced players, you will
make the drum circle experience more enjoyable for yourself and
the people around you. You will then be a fully participating
and contributing member of an “in the moment” rhythmic alchemy
orchestra, sometimes called a drum circle.
Advice For All Drummers
1. Don’t wear rings, watches or bracelets while playing
hand drums. Metal jewelry can damage the head of the drum, as
well as the drum itself. Shedding the jewelry will also protect
2. Ask permission before playing someone else’s drum. For some
drummers their instrument is a very personal possession.
3. If someone gets up and leaves the circle to get a drink or go
to the bathroom, don’t immediately jump in and take their seat.
In some drumming communities the drummers will put something on
their seat, cover their drum with something or lay their drum on
its side to signify that they will be back.
4. Listen as much as you play. By listening to what’s going on
around you, you will have a better sense of how to fit into the
groove that is being created.
5. Support the fundamental groove that you hear being created in
the drum song. You don’t have to be a rhythm robot and hold down
the same part all night long. There is plenty of freedom to
experiment and express your rhythmical spirit within the
6. Leave enough rhythmic space in the circle for other players
to express themselves. Don’t fill up the creative space with
your own notes. Remember that it’s a conversation.
7. Play at the volume of the group. If you can only hear
yourself, you’re probably not having a constructive musical
relationship with the rest of the players in the circle. Good
volume dynamics create good relationship dynamics. Play soft
enough to hear everyone around you. Follow and support the
dynamic changes in volume and tempo that the group will go
through during a drum circle event.
8. Share the solo space. If you are at the advanced level of
drumming expertise where soloing is available to you, then you
know the excitement and pleasure of being able to play over,
around and through the drum circle groove. Soloing through a
drum circle groove is very much like a bird flying through the
forest. The “solo air” can’t accommodate more than a few people
soloing at the same time. If there is more than one soloist
available in a circle be sure to share the solo space with them.
The best way for two or three drum soloists to play through the
groove together is to have a drum dialogue with each other. In a
facilitated drum circle event, a good facilitator will find all
of the advanced drummers in the circle and showcase them
individually, encouraging them to trade solos with each other.
9. Don’t smoke in the circle. Drumming is a high-energy aerobic
exercise. Respect everyone’s need to breathe uncontaminated air
while in such close quarters.
Advice For Beginners
1. Enjoy the journey. In all the excitement, don’t forget to
have fun. Although it will help you to follow the simple Drum
Circle Etiquette guidelines, you don’t really have to be an
experienced drummer to fully participate and have a good time.
2. Don’t worry, even if you might think that you are
rhythmically challenged. Just get started and you will find
rhythms inside of you that you didn’t know you had. By actively
participating in the drum circle event, you will find that the
excitement and rhythms that surround are all you need to fully
contribute to the group song. You don’t even need to play a
drum. You can bring a simple percussion instrument like a
shaker, a bell or a woodblock. They are a lot easier to play
than a hand drum.
3. Support the drum community experience. If you participate in
a drum circle event for the first time, it’s best to play with
an attitude of humility and support. Be observant of the actions
and reactions of the more advanced drummers and you will learn
4. Keep it simple. Listen for the pulse that will always be some
where in the music, then play along and around it. It is like
keeping the side of the pool within reach as you learn how to
swim. The simple pulse will always be there for you to grab onto
if you ever lose the rhythm while playing. Once you’re
comfortable with the part you play, you can explore deeper
rhythmic waters. Just keep the pulse in sight.
5. Just ask. Every rhythm event is different, and each has its
own particular variations of drum circle etiquette. If you’re
not sure what’s appropriate, just ask somebody. They will
usually respond with supportive suggestions.
That’s it! There is a basic agreement in these kinds of events
that each person in the circle is there to share their rhythmic
spirit and personal energy with the community that is present.
With this kind of group consciousness, a drum circle can be a
very powerful yet intimate experience for participants to create
unity in their community by drumming together. Your level of
expertise is less important than how much of yourself you
contribute to the experience. If every player is there to share
his or her spirit and have fun, the musical part of any drum
circle will take care of itself.
Arthur Hull is a
Remo artist and Signature Series drum designer. As a nationally
renowned community drum facilitator, Arthur is recognized as the
father of the modern drum circle movement. Arthur’s book and CD,
Drum Circle Spirit,
Facilitating Human Potential through Rhythm,
is the culmination of his years of rhythmic evangelism and group
facilitation around the world.
Our Drum Circles and Fire and
We are very passionate about the wonders of drum circles and
have spent time and money promoting our Fire and
Drum nights (see our facebook group
Fire and Drum nights), these are free and open to all, I
supply some spare drums and we run several simple drum lessons
during the evening.
hold our "Moonfest" Fire, Dance and Drum gathering at Tehaki reserve on the
side of Mt Eden in Auckland, access is from the car park off Mt
Eden rd (near the summit entrance), you will also find some Fire
performers, Belly dancers and others who like the chance to move
to our music.
for dates etc
Around the North Island: We are working with our fire, dance and
drum friends in other parts of the country to organise events for us all.
We also run a drum circle on the Friday or Saturday night of
most of the Spiritual shows we organise. These generally run
from 7pm to 9.30pm using the same venue as the show and we
welcome all levels of drummers, there is a $2 charge per adult
towards the venue and spare drums are available for hire ($5 for
the evening). If you don't know how to drum we give free lessons
at the start of the night.
Click here for dates and venues.
Other Drum Circles (we have
become aware of)
Bayleys Beach: African Drumming group, every wed, 6pm to 7.30pm
at 76 or 79 Chases Tce. All welcome, bring a drum or use one of
theirs. Gold coin donation.