Category Archives: Uncategorized

Visualization: Letting go of what we are not.

All That We Are Not
Discernment is a process of letting go of what we are not.

  • Sit quietly, and as you breathe, feel all that troubles you rise through your body.

  • As you breathe, allow these troubles to move away from you.

  • Breathe deeply and accept the stillness that comes. It is the skin of your soul, waiting in its completeness for you to carve away the excess of your very human moods.

It is a very human way, to be consumed by what moves through us.

Mark Nepo, (2013) >The Little Book of AwakeningWeek 17, “All that we are not”, p 61, Conari Press, San Francisco, CA

Storytelling Class Final Exam Essay

View My >Final Class Essay

The Art of Storytelling
Spring 2019
South Mountain Coummunity College Storytelling Institute

Explore the art and origin of storytelling. Provide a variety of storytelling techniques, styles and exercises to enhance the delivery of telling stories. Assist in the integration and application of storytelling to the learning environment in the classroom.

OBJECTIVES OF THE COURSE:  Students will become aware of their own potential as storytellers and the power of storytelling in their lives and work.  Storytelling literature and the history of storytelling will be surveyed, but the practice of telling stories orally will receive the major emphasis.

TEXT:  The Oral Tradition Today:  An Introduction to the Art of Storytelling by Liz Warren.  This text will be supplemented by a few other printed articles.

Folktale Research:  You are expected to find a minimum of twenty folktales that are related to the genres and cultures we are focusing on in this course.  This includes folktales from African and African American, Latin American, Native American Indian, European, and Asian cultures.  Story Summary & Analysis sheets, page 185 in our text, should be filled out for all folktales submitted for Reading and Research.  Due dates are listed on the class schedule. (200 points)

Storytelling Events:  Students are required to attend at least two professional storytelling events and write a report evaluating the events and the performances.  Several options will be available. Use the report form found Appendix B in the back of our text, page 193. Calendar for storytelling events and a listing of those that qualify as professional storytelling events can be found at  (100 points)

In-Class Tellings:  Tell a story in class a minimum of four times.  The stories should be from different genres (i.e., folktale, myth/legend, fact based [biographical or historical], personal story).  Create a “Story Map” and fill out an In Class Telling Report Form, page 187 in the text), after telling each story. (200)


Drum Healing Books

Click on the Book Images Below to view Amazon Links:



The Healing Power of the Drum is an authoritative yet easy to read book that shows how everyone can achieve health benefits from the increasingly popular activity of hand drumming. The raison d’etre for the book is to raise awareness of the hand drum from merely a musical instrument to a tool that can be used by individuals to attain psychological, physiological and spiritual well-being.

The book explores the drum from a multidimensional perspective, explaining the drum’s ability to release anger, create joy, alter brain rhythms, induce trance, and create empowerment. Research and anecdotal reports provide validation of the benefits of personal drumming.

The Healing Power of the Drum provides a springboard for readers to use the drum in exciting and innovative ways to enhance their own wellness. The book reflects the very qualities of drumming. It is easy to read and non-technical, fun, and yet it provides depth, meaning and purpose for the reader. As the drum provides seemingly limitless ranges of emotions from deep relaxation to extraordinary aliveness, the book accordingly explores the vast range of experiences offered by drumming, from its ability to create euphoria to its deep and sacred power to heal.

All new sequel to the original, wildly popular “Healing Power of the Drum”. A timely synopsis of the healing, cultural traditions, community building and continuation of the sacred lineage of the drum.

With Music Medicine,music therapist Christine Stevens presents an information-packed resource, filled with scientifically based practices for accessing and attuning to the natural healing properties of music. Drawing from a wealth of research and her own pioneering healing work in some of the most challenging places around the world, Stevens invites readers to discover:

. Accessing the four elements of music-rhythm as medicine for the body, melody for the heart, harmony for the soul, and silence for the mind
. Why making music accelerates our ability to heal and change
. Healing playlists-each chapter features valuable download recommendations and links for selecting healing music
. The drum massage, creating your power song, full-body listening, and other effective and enjoyable practices
“Music,” teaches Christine Stevens, “can do so much more than entertain us.” With Music Medicine, she provides a thoroughly researched, accessible, and practical guide for therapists, healing practitioners, musicians-and anyone interested in music for health and spiritual growth.


Djembe Role in the traditional ensemble

“Traditionally, the djembe forms an ensemble with a number of other djembes and one or more dunun. Except for the lead (or solo) djembe, all instruments play a recurring rhythmic figure that is known as an accompaniment pattern or accompaniment part. The figure repeats after a certain number of beats, known as a cycle. The most common cycle length is four beats, but cycles often have other lengths, such as two, three, six, eight or more beats…Cycles longer than eight beats are rare for djembe accompaniments—longer cycles are normally played only by the dununba or sangban.

Each instrument plays a different rhythmic figure, and the cycle lengths of the different instruments need not necessarily be the same. This interplay results in complex rhythmic patterns (polyrhythms). The different accompaniment parts are played on djembes that are tuned to different pitches; this emphasizes the polyrhythm and creates a composite overall “melody”.

The number of instruments in the ensemble varies with the region and occasion. In Mali, a traditional ensemble often consists of one dunun (called konkoni) and one djembe. The konkoni and djembe are in a rhythmic dialog, with each drum taking turns playing accompaniment while the other instrument plays improvised solos. If a second dunun player is available, he supplements the ensemble with a khassonka dunun, which is a bass drum similar in build to a konkoni, but larger.[

In Guinea, a typical ensemble uses three djembes and three dunun, called sangban (medium pitch), dundunba (bass pitch), and kenkeni (high pitch, also called kensedeni). If an ensemble includes more than one djembe, the highest pitched (and therefore loudest) djembe plays solo phrases and the other djembes and dunun play accompaniment. An ensemble may have only two dunun, depending on whether a village has enough dunun players and is wealthy enough to afford three dunun.

A djembe and dunun ensemble traditionally does not play music for people to simply sit back and listen to. Instead, the ensemble creates rhythm for people to dance, sing, clap, or work to. The western distinction between musicians and audience is inappropriate in a traditional context. A rhythm is rarely played as a performance, but is participatory: musicians, dancers, singers, and onlookers are all part of the ensemble and frequently change roles while the music is in progress.

Musicians and participants often form a circle, with the centre of the circle reserved for dancers. Depending on the particular rhythm being played, dances maybe performed by groups of men and/or women with choreographed steps, or single dancers may take turns at performing short solos. The lead djembe’s role is to play solo phrases that accentuate the movements of the dancers.

Often, the aim is to “mark the dancers’ feet”, that is, to play rhythmic patterns that are synchronized with the dancers’ steps. Individual solo dances are not choreographed, with the dancer freely moving in whatever way feels appropriate at that moment. Marking a solo dancer’s feet requires the lead djembefola to have strong rapport with the dancer, and it takes many years of experience for a djembefola to acquire the necessary rhythmic repertoire.

The lead djembefola also improvises to a rhythm at times when no-one is dancing. While there is considerable freedom in such improvisation, the solo phrases are not random. Instead, individual rhythms have specific key patterns (signature phrases) that the soloist is expected to know and integrate into his improvisation. A skilled soloist will also play phrases that harmonize with the background rhythm (groove) that is created by the other instruments.”

Continue reading from Source: Djembe – Wikipedia

The Wholistic Effect of Drumming

For all drummers and percussionists, I would love comments  on this topic to help define more what I am seeing in drumming and drum circles.

I am seeing more combination of drumming with peaceful periods of relaxation and visualization techniques to great effect. I strongly feel from my life experiences, research and knowledge the body has the greatest potential for self-healing in the right setting – namely peaceful silent energy when the mind is focused on just the healing.

Science has said that active drumming or percussion, which literally places rhythms in the body, makes measurable beneficial changes in physiology when the increasing energy is controlled. This also has the effect of “sweeping the brain” of dusty thoughts by focusing the mind totally on the rhythms. This is more important than we realize because it is the chatty brain that prevents us from activating peaceful states that will automatically release wholistic healing energies.

When we follow that high energy controlled drumming by a period of peace or peace generating techniques, we have a new wellspring of energy that becomes automatically absorbed in an infinite peace that was always there but shut out by our chatter box mind. I feel that peace is not only coming from within but also rushing in as practiced by (I would say) all indigenous culture practices.

An excellent example that describes in detail the application of some of these ideas is documented by a drum session at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America facilitated by Andrew Ecker of Drumming Sounds.

As Christine Stevens said, drumming is the only “Active Meditation” that she knows about. When we do the drumming-peace activities we are actually bringing some meditation to the masses before they have had the chance to learn more difficult mental techniques of “sweeping” their thoughts to achieve those states.

I felt a need to post this in order to draw attention to what may be happening right now in many drum circles. Feel free to provide your on experiences.

What to Charge for a Drum Circle? – Rates Pricing & Venues

Ratigan, Shannon. “What to Charge for a Drum Circle? – Rates Pricing.” Accessed August 5, 2016.

“So what is the current average price drum circle facilitators charge for providing all the drums, percussion, and facilitating a drum circle? The short answer? 300 bucks, (one person facilitating, and for under 100 people).

And that’s doing it on the cheap. There really is no set pricing scale, it’s where you live, what the market, current economy will bear, and what groups can afford. Many of us use a sliding scale for pricing. Anywhere from $100 to $600 depending on for who, how long, how many, and how far away.

Most of us will do a few no charge charity circles a year. I try to do at least 2 or 3, but we have to at least try to cover our expenses. There are others who won’t even negotiate with you for under $500 for an hour circle. Then there are the ones that jet into town from out of state with a few large tubs of drums and get $5000 for two 1 hour circles. Most of them are backed by brands, and have national exposure.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they are better, a regional facilitator with at least 10 years experience will give you an excellent music making drum circle experience at a much lower price. So there is no real set pricing, or specific protocols that need to be followed.I was able to determine the going rates to charge mainly because of my drum circle finder.

I have been updating it for 16 years, and in the process communicated with a lot of facilitators or hosts. Over the course of updating it I often saw rates in different areas, and many times spoke or emailed with the organizers.”

Read More at: Drum Circle World Blog: What to Charge for a Drum Circle? – Rates Pricing & Venues

The Tempo of Life, Wisdom from the Elders

The Tempo of Life by Jim Greiner (with permission)


(Drum circles range the full spectrum of high energy rock and roll rhythms to calming wellness drumming. Why not have the “Golden Middle Path” as Buddha taught and have the best of both worlds? I try to look for that gold in my circles. Music is life and life is music! Let us encourage life to find a better middle ground.)

“Jim Greiner, one of the pioneers of the drum circle movement and a very prolific writer, shares his playful story of the merging of the ancient with the contemporary in his unique style.”

“Grandfather, what has changed about the drumming from the time you were a young man?

I asked this question many years ago when I had the great privilege to be invited to drum with a Native American elder of the Chumash people, from southern California, named Semu Haute – though everyone just called him Grandfather. Grandfather was in his 6o’s or 70’s, though it was hard to tell his age. His broad face was sundried and deeply cut with life-lines, and he carried himself with the inner calm of an elder, but he also exuded the vitality of a much younger person.

I joined Grandfather’s drummers around their large ceremonial drum near a fire whose glow barely penetrated the dark, moonless night. As we played, I had the feeling that his drummers, all guys in their early 20’s as I was, kept trying to push the tempo faster. They all respectfully supported Grandfather, and the drumming and singing was truly a profoundly moving experience. But it felt like he was constantly reining in a herd of wild mustangs that wanted to gallop faster and faster!

We played for several hours as we journeyed deeper and deeper into the rhythm. On Grandfather’s upspoken cue we stopped, sat together in silent contemplation for a few minutes, and finally returned to “normal” reality. We talked together briefly, then finally we drummers slapped backs in our youthful male exuberance, and said our “Good Nights” to each other.

I stayed behind after the other drummers had left, and asked Semu Haute that question, “Grandfather, what has changed about the drumming from the time you were a young man?”.  Grandfather looked deeply into my eyes and said, “That is a very good question young man … one that no one else asks me.”

His eyes then seemed to look far back into his memory… into his own youthful past.

A momentary thought flashed through my mind that I was about to be privileged to receive a teaching that he would draw deeply from a well of ancient wisdom. Grandfather then looked at me intently, and stated in his clear, no-nonsense way, “All my young drummers these days want to play the traditional songs much too fast.

Then, pausing, but still fixing me with his powerful gaze, the laugh lines around his mouth and eyes deepening, he exclaimed… “It’s that’s damned Rock and Roll!” Powerful belly-laughter exploded from both of us!

Later, I realized that this was indeed profound wisdom, contained in a very simple, down-to earth lesson: The rhythms of our lives today are much faster, and more complex, than at any other time in human history. And, they get faster and more complex from generation to generation.

Our intricately-woven, fast-paced Life Rhythms can affect us in profoundly negative ways if we allow them to become our masters: stress-related disorders, difficulty focusing, and a general unwellness of mind, body and spirit are often the results of out-of-control Life Rhythms.

We do have the innate ability to create a calm inner tempo, even when physically and mentally active, that allows us to focus on our core principles and intentions more effectively, and to playfully celebrate the blessing that is Life!

Friedman, Robert Lawrence. The Healing Power of the Drum, Book Two: a Journey of Rhythm and Stories. Gilsum, NH, White Cliffs Media, 2011.

“Divine Father, teach me to dive again and again into meditation, deeper and deeper, until I find Thine immortal pearls of wisdom and divine joy.”

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Metaphysical Meditations (Self-Realization Fellowship). New ed. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1967.

“The purpose of sound is silence.” —  Jill Purce

The waves of life gives us the energy, but if we never leave them, we will never discover the deeper wisdom that lies below in the infinite ocean of life and spirit.