Day will be hosting a weekly community drum circle every Thursday in Fortier Park. The therapeutic drumming and
instruction is open to all but intended mostly for kids. It begins at
6pm and is Free.
It is sponsored by Project Rising Sun (http://projectrisingsun.net).
6 pm on THURSDAYS in Fortier Park
Fortier Park is at 3100 Esplanade in beautiful Faubourg St. John
3100 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119
From the August 4, 2011 issue of the Times Picayune
Thunderous booms, rapid-fire smacks and the patter of tiny fingers on canvas filled Fortier Park on a recent Thursday, as the Rising Sun community drumming group convened to find its weekly groove. Participants, who usually number about a dozen, sat in a circle and hammered away at djembes and congas under the guidance of professional drum instructors Angelamia Bachemin and Gingerbread Tanner.
Bachemin began the drum circle by leading attendees through a lesson in “drum vocabulary,” teaching them a handful of drum licks and rolls, after which each drummer was given the opportunity to strut their stuff with a solo.
“I want everyone to close their eyes and imagine the prettiest waterfall that you’ve ever seen,” she urged, to a drum group that included adults, children, novices and experts.
The drum circle meets in Fortier Park, at Esplanade Avenue and Mystery Street, every Thursday at 6 p.m., weather permitting. It’s free and open to anyone who wants to take part. Drums are provided, or participants can bring their own.
Bachemin, who plays vibrophone, guitar and hand percussion in addition to drums, is a former professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston. She directs the New Orleans Jazz Hip-Hop Orchestra and plays in the Soulkestra and LaCoste bands.
“People love the Fortier drum circle,” Bachemin said, noting parents often bring their children. “This gives you something where you can sit with your kids, you can enjoy playing music with your kids.”
The drum circle is put on weekly by Project Rising Sun, a nonprofit founded by Tulane University psychiatrist Jan Johnson and her sister, Diane, an international relief and development expert, after Hurricane Katrina to build community relationships and help residents deal with stress through drumming.
Jan Johnson, who had used drumming therapy as a psychiatrist, is a firm believer that drumming has numerous psychological health benefits, which humans have been reaping for centuries.
“If you think about it, drumming is the earliest form of communication. It’s the heartbeat,” she said.
The drum circle has developed a regular following. “It takes a lot of practice, but I just keep doing it and figure I’ll learn someday,” said Jerri Young. Young, who lives close to the park and stumbled onto the drumming by chance, said he finds the community group to be a great form of relaxation.
In addition to the group at Fortier Park, the organization also holds therapeutic drum circles for young people each week at Cafe Reconcile and Covenant House.
According to Bella Christadoulou, a licensed clinical social worker who facilitates many of the therapeutic drum circles, the groups touch populations that may not respond well to traditional types of therapy.
“Many of them have been forced into therapy in the past and they don’t trust those in authority, so engaging them is challenging,” she said.
Christadoulou said the drumming group therapy is successful because it breaks down barriers and places individuals in a group setting that they find comfortable.
The sessions are facilitated by a therapist and a professional drum instructor, and participants mix drumming with talking about emotional hardships they may be enduring.
“Sometimes, things come up that are really heavy,” Christadoulou said.
Christopher Dunn, a regular at the Fortier Park drum circle, said he hopes the program continues.
“It’s a great community-building exercise,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing that brings people together across the city.”
By Daniel Lawton, contributing writer