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Moonfest, Full Moon Drum Circles
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 awesome nights,

Click here to find Drum Circle NZ on Facebook

The Melt - Auckland, Dance and Drum Jam session
Click here for more information

What are "Drum Circles" ?

We'll let the man who originated them tell you - Arthur Hull:

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.

Universal language

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 together.

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 of rhythm.

That is the beauty of a community drum circle.

14 Steps To Better Community Drumming

  • By Arthur Hull
  • Originally Published In DRUM! Magazine’s March/April 2011 Issue

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 Etiquette.”

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 your hands.

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 fundamental groove.

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 much quicker.

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 Drum Nights

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.

Auckland: We 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. Click here 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.