Tomato cage

Driving rules keep us from crashing into each other. When we are at a four way stop, driving rules let us know who gets to go first. If we didn’t have that we would all enter the intersection and crash into each other. Social rules let us know the same thing. When we crash into each other we all get into a big mess.

I know a lady who didn’t like the Reno Healthrhythms protocol. She felt it wasn’t organic. She wanted people to just flow around and enjoy making noise together.

Consider a map. If you are going to go to a new city you need a map to tell you how to get there. You don’t just get in your car and drive around following your feelings until you happen to end up where you need to be. You are very likely to get very lost doing it that way.

With this protocol we have a specific place we are trying to get to. We are trying to get to disclosure and honesty. We are trying to get real. It isn’t about drumming at all. It is about getting people to use drums as a way to communicate and connect. Not only do they learn how connect with each other, but they also learn how to connect with themselves.

It is like a tomato cage. The tomato cage doesn’t force the tomatoes to grow into an unnatural shape. It actually gives them a structure upon which to grow and get strong. Tomatoes that don’t have a tomato cage end up sprawling all over the ground and getting eaten by bugs. Slugs will grow fat feeding on them. The tomatoes will get mushy and gross from being on the ground. So you have to have a tomato cage to keep the tomatoes standing upright. The protocol does the same thing. It provides a skeleton or a form to shape the desired result.

It doesn’t constrict. It actually strengthens. It is the map. It is the driving instructions. It is the thing that gets us from here to there. Otherwise we are likely to end up nowhere.

Sometimes nowhere is a good place. Sometimes we think too much and we have too much structure. Sometimes it is important to do things that don’t involve thinking. Mindlessness is sometimes useful. But sometimes it just becomes an absence of anything and we end up nowhere.

Rings and drumming

If you are going to play drums it is important to not wear rings. Wearing rings can damage your hands but can also damage the drum. Repeated exposure of the ring to the side or the head of the drum can slowly weaken it to the point of breaking. Or if they hit very hard it can damage it very fast.

If you were lucky enough to have replaceable drumheads this isn’t horrible. They are expensive and it will slow down your ability to teach drum classes, sure. You’ll be slowed down because you have to go get a new drumhead or order one. Or you may have to wait to raise the money to be able to buy the drumhead. If you weren’t lucky, you’ll have to buy a whole new drum.

While you can ask people to take off their rings, this can cause other problems. Some people may never have taken their rings off. From the time that they got married to today that ring has been on their finger. Sometimes they have gained so much weight in that time that they can’t get their ring off. Or they have arthritis and it is equally difficult. They also may feel uncomfortable about taking a ring off for fear that they will lose it.

One way around this is to bring Band-Aids. You can offer Band-Aids so that they can put one around the ring. This will soften the impact. Put the cushion side towards the bottom. Or you can bring ball chains. That way, people can take the rings off and wear them around their necks. They are inexpensive and will help people feel comfortable that their ring isn’t going to slide out of their pocket or get lost on the floor.

Drum class notes.

These are ideas I had after the Remo Healthrhythms drumming class, and thoughts on creating circles of people in general. This is a work in progress.

Create a safe space. Comfortable chairs, temperature is moderate. Have choices for chairs so different bodies can fit. Flat cushions, zabuton, rugs. Chairs. Or all the same? Do you want people all at the same eye level, or options?

Ask about any issues, sensitivity. Loud sounds, noise, crowds.

Be considerate of food and water needs. Supply choices.

Remind people that they can take care of their needs – bathroom, water, snack. They don’t have to wait for the group to take a break.

Plan for a variety of breaks so people can stretch, talk, decompress. Have a venue with a lot of different spaces for people to go to, including outside.

Vegas rules – what happens here stays here. Get all to agree. Confidentiality. Don’t talk about what someone says or does – good or bad.

A couple of questions to start – What is your favorite kind of ice cream? How do you fold a towel? These are ways to show that we all have individual ideas, and just because they are different doesn’t make them wrong.

Ground rules – have the group create the list. Discuss. Ask – Does anyone have a problem with anything? Is everyone able to abide by these rules? Don’t proceed until you get an agreement. The discussion during this part alone is part of the experience. How do we work through conflict?

Ask everyone to turn off cell phones so we can be fully present with each other.

Tell people to ask questions – if you are thinking it, there is probably someone else who is thinking it too. You may answer someone else’s question or fix someone else’s issue.

Don’t say “beat” the drum. It reminds people of abuse.

Don’t make it like musical chairs where somebody will be left out. Always have extra instruments so everybody has a choice.

Before the event – send out info to participants about needing to wear comfortable clothes – especially pants. It is difficult to play some drums wearing a skirt. If they are going to use their hands to play a drum (not a mallet) they need to not wear any rings because it can hurt your hand and hurt the drum head.

Assure people that there is no right way to play. Mistakes are where the magic happens.

Ask for what you need.

In the shaker pass icebreaker game, say it is ok to drop the shaker. If you drop it, let it stay. Model this in the first round.