I am an infrequent blogger, but felt moved to type a short passage to encourage fellow drum circle facilitators to challenge what they are presented with in their day to day work. Having completed in excess of 600 special needs drum circles or rhythm making events I have noticed a few common threads that run through some of them. One of the most important is when as a facilitator I arrive and before I load in I walk around and greet all the exceptional people, support workers, shake hands, smile, check numbers and what kind of drums I will need and it usually then I have been advised that a certain client will not take part and it happens time and time again.
I encourage you to gently challenge this preconception. My latest example involved being told that someone would not take part. This person had 2 to 1 support and was sat at a table. When it came to start the event I handed out shakers and they were right the person had no desire to come over to the circle, but I came over to where they and the support workers were sat and gave them a shaker each and spoke to them gently and said that if they joined in then the person would. I spoke to the person and placed a shaker in front of them and said that it was for them and that they could join in with us if they wanted or not it was totally up to them. And they joined in infrequently, but they joined in. When we came to drumming I carried 3 drums over and gave one each to the support workers and placed one next to the person and spoke to them gently saying that this was their drum and I was just placing it next to them so that if they wanted they could join in, when they were ready and if they did not then that was OK. They joined in and played a small solo as well. This happens time and time again so take nothing for granted, gently challenge and give everyone that opportunity to join and empower them to freely make their own decision. It is about expression and inclusivity.