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L.A. Drum Circles Go Beyond Sundays in the Park
By Sherry Anne Rubiano
Joelene Knight grew tired of sitting around in a circle and singing The Wheels on the Bus in Mommy-and-Me classes. So when she heard about a group drum circle from a friend at the YMCA, she decided to give it a try.
She brought her then 5-month-old son, Riley, to their first Mommy-and-Me drum circle run by The Rhythm Child Network, a one-year-old Los Angeles-based company dedicated to promoting “positive” music. Here, parents and their children are given free reign to play whatever beat they want. They pound their hands and mallets on drums, rumble vegetable-shaped shakers, and bang boom-whackers on the wooden dance floor and on the walls. Riley, sitting on the floor in his mom’s lap, enthusiastically bangs the small drum in front of them. Both Knight and her son are hooked on the drum experience.
“The class lets him find his own rhythm,” Knight says, adding that it exposes Riley to the joy of music.
Many parents say the sessions are appealing because they give children the freedom to let loose.
Keith Rice brings his 3-year-old son Jason to the circle every week. “It’s an outlet for the kids to make music,” Rice says, “It’s a way for us to do something every Saturday morning.”
Norm Jones and his wife, Heather, founded The Rhythm Child Network last summer. Besides Mommy-and-Me drum classes, they host drumming parties for kids and other family events. They integrate children’s drumming and stories into each Mommy-and-Me session for infants, toddlers and their parents. Jones says these activities promote emotional bonding and a chance for the children to discover music.
“That’s the most important thing for me – not teaching the kids to play anything in particular, but make them feel confident, eager to explore their own rhythm,” he says.