Lafayette: ‘Drum circle’ helps bring out inner peace, better health –

LAFAYETTE — It doesn’t take an advanced degree to understand the communal and individual benefit of hitting a drumhead with a bouncing hand or slapping it with slightly curved fingers.

Better known as “bass” and “slap” drumming, one glimpse of 87-year-old Penny Kermit’s euphoric face as the Orinda resident participates in a monthly drum circle jam at Lamorinda Music led by educator and therapist Kathy Quain tells a story of empowerment.

Karen Sakata, center, pounds the drum hard as she performs with members of  Diablo Taiko after she is sworn in as the Contra Costa County superintendent of

Meeting the first Monday of each month from noon to 1 p.m., one hour of instruction and participation leaves Kermit momentarily speechless.

Recovering nicely, she said, “Unusual experience, truly awesome. My son told me it’s called ‘the wave.’ It happens to runners and musicians who are very into what they’re doing. It just happened to me; a ripple that went through my whole body. It scared me, such a silent, big thing happening to me.”

But it wasn’t silent in one sense, and others in the group soon chime in.

“I started coming a year ago,” says B. J. Espenmiller, 73, from Moraga. “It makes me smile. I love the peaceful environment, the energy from the group. It’s a feeling of contentment and a lot of fun.”

Espenmiller has tried something new every year since turning 70. She said drumming is freeing because “you don’t have to do it correctly.”

Quain, a 45-year-old Marin County resident, was on track to become a piano soloist before attending a Barbara Reuer workshop in 1994 redirected her considerable energy to music therapy. She affirmed Espenmiller’s characterization.

“In the realm of what I embrace, I give people permission to improvise,” Quain said. “It takes an environment of non-judgment. There is no aural or technical condition they must play under.”

It’s true — no prior musical experience is necessary to attend the friendly, low-cost drum circles Quain leads throughout the Bay Area as founder and director of Music For Therapy. That doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all; at businesses, hospitals, schools, workshops and festivals, Quain practices research-based intervention that participants say feels like personal expression and science shows has biological and psychosocial benefits.

CONTINUE READING > via Lafayette: ‘Drum circle’ helps bring out inner peace, better health –


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