Last Sunday, the Royal Opera House opened its doors and rehearsal studios to the general public, to allow people to come in and explore, and participate in, a “Day of Percussion”. This was a day-long series of interactive drum events, drumming workshops and percussion master classes with esteemed artists ranging from pop drummers to orchestral virtuosos.
Ash Soan (drummer for Adele, Seal, Will Young and Olly Murrs, to name but a few) drew in lots of drum-kit players whilst Wieland Welzel, timpanist from the Berlin Philharmonic, kept things suitably high brow!
For the third year running, I was honoured to be asked to start the day with a bang, by running a drum circle involving as many members of the public and passers-by as possible. Using all my crowd management skills and facilitation experience, my job was to instantly create music from an ever-growing circle of half-willing and very willing participants.
It took only seconds as mums and dads were dragged by their excited children to come and play alongside the keen drummers who were flocking to the large circle of waiting drums. With hardly any instruction from me, the instant orchestra was off and running. When all the seats were taken, I dispensed smaller handheld percussion instruments to the onlookers to involve them too.
As this was going on right next to many percussion trade stands, it didn’t take long before people at the stands were tapping away too to the sound of our early morning creation. With a dramatic leap and hand signal, we stopped the drumming orchestra for a few seconds to create space for the wondrous crash of huge handmade gongs, which were hanging right next to us.
Rhythm is infectious and everyone around us was playing, clapping or smiling.
This wonderful format of instant drumming with little talking or formal teaching from the facilitator is something we have been doing for many years. Most of the work we do within DrumPulse is in a slightly more structured format for the corporate world, with interactive sections to highlight team building messages. However, it was a lot of fun to be totally unstructured for a change, as Covent Garden was treated to the thunderous sound at 11am in the morning!
This quick and easy drum circle format is something we are well versed in and around this time of year we get called to do many events. During the summer months, we are often asked to provide drumming at corporate family fun days. This is when large companies hire a venue or area and have vast numbers of fun interactive activities for employees and their families to try out.
Drumming is perfect for this type of event and the drum circle format works particularly well. By keeping instruction to a minimum and using only simple hand signals, we can build up the music by attracting more and more participants and onlookers – creating quite a spectacle.
As I was bringing my wonderful drummers to a close in the hallowed hall of the Royal Opera House (where some of the world’s greatest musical artists and ballet dancers have appeared), I recalled our last family fun day. There, our performance space was positioned between a ferret racing track and a BBQ. It always pays to keep your feet on the ground!
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