DRUM CIRCLE ETIQUTTE
by Arthur Hull
1. Don’t wear rings, watches, or bracelets while playing drums. This protects the head on the drum as well as the drum itself from the metal. It also protects your hands.
2. Ask permission before playing somebody else’s drum. For some drummers, his or her instrument is a very personal possession. Also 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 her or his drum with something, or lay their drum on it’s side to signify that they will be back.
3. Listen as much as you play. By listening to what’s going on in the circle as you play, you will have a better sense of how you might fit into the groove that is being created.
4. Support the fundamental groove that you hear in the drum song being created in the circle. You don’t have to be a rhythm robot and hold down the same part all night long. There is plenty of freedom within the fundamental groove to experiment with while expressing your rhythmical spirit.
5. Leave rhythmical space for other players in the circle to express themselves. Don’t fill up the space with your own notes so much that there isn’t much creative space left for the other players.
6. Play at the volume of the group. If you can only hear yourself, you are probably not having a constructive musical relationship with the rest of the players in the circle. Good volume dynamics create good relationship dynamics. Play softly enough so that you can hear everyone around you. While you are drumming, be sure to follow and support the dynamic changes in volume and tempo that the group will go through during a drum circle event.
7. Share the solo space. If you are at the advanced level of rhythmical expertise where soloing with your drum 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. But the “solo air” above 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 eachother. In a facilitated drum circle event a good facilitator will have found all of the advanced drummers in the circle and would be “show casing” them individually or encouraging them to trade solos with each other.
8. Don't smoke in the circle.Drumming is a high energy aerobic exercise. Respect the need of everyone to breath uncontaminated air in such a closely packed environment.
For the visitors, please don’t stand in the circle forming a wall that the people seated around the circle can’t see the drummers and no one has the ability to dance. The circle is for fluid movement.
All are welcome. We always hope to see our drumming friends return. As we respect and support each other, we allow for growth and union.