Being a percussionist for much of my adult life, learning the basics in elementary school, it wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s that I became driven. Rhythm driven. Playing a variety of hand drums has certainly been fun, whether at home alone, with others in a drum circle or out performing on stage. I find drumming to be motivating, captivating, and an incredible form of self expression. It can also be very healing for the performer as well as the listener. I’d like to share some of the insight I’ve gained through my experience while playing at music events across the northeast. I believe we all have a purpose, a gift to share, a heart that lives deep inside. As a performer I recognize that becoming a member of a larger community enriches everyone. I also recognize the incredible blessings that come from coming together, celebrating, collaborating and creating.
I feel it is safe to say most of us can recognize the power of music. Often we feel a change affecting us when something in a song grabs us. Sometimes it is a song being heard for the first time. Other times it could be in one we have listened to many times before. It could be the melody, a lyric, or a rhythm. It could be an old song from just as far back as our memories can go. Music can relieve our stress, inspire us, make us feel creative or amplify our passion. It dissipates pain and can motivate change in our life paths. The healing power of music often brightens our days.
Drumming is an important bridge in music and certainly in its early history for storytelling. Drums can lead an event and they can help carry it along. Over the last several years I’ve played with musicians and dj’s, sometimes on stage, but more enthusiastically right on the dance floor. The real magic is when the music is played from the heart and the listeners dance from that same place. This creates an additional rhythm all its own. The smiles on the faces of those sharing the moment is inspiring and healing almost beyond measure.
I’ve often been asked about the way to start learning how to drum. Actually, I think drumming is in us all, in some capacity, and certainly practice is key. More importantly, just letting go of worry! Watch a young child get in the groove. We are born natural little performers. You don’t need anything fancy or even a drum at all! A kitchen sink can sound amazing as can just a bucket with some sticks. The simplest explanation I have come up with is to not have our brain move our hands at all, let the rhythm do that. We bob our heads or tap our feet to the beat of the music automatically. When we’re feeling the groove, the pulse, should simply be our guide.
In the busy, often complicated world we live in there is a need for more celebrating. We need more relaxation, fun and healing. We need more positive events to look forward to. We need to shake it on the dance floor! We need to let go of worry and stress. Human history has shown that drumming has always been an integral part of storytelling and communication. Drumming has existed for thousands of years providing entertainment, spiritualism and celebration.
It is my hope that the drums, along with the music and infectious rhythms created with them, will enkindle joy in all hearts. So turn on and turn up the music as often as you can. Keep your ears open to new and exciting rhythms. Get out and play! Get rhythm driven!
Jim Chiefari is a professional videographer and musician, working in the capital region and beyond for the past 15 years. He is launching a new multi-media and music project entitled Rhythm Driven Coalition. Its purpose is to combine live musicians with popular songs remixed. After attending college, Jim graduated from the Vt. Institute of Massage Therapy and New School for Television and Radio.