Drum Circle Etiquette

There is a drum circle here in Fort Myers, Florida. Lee County Drum Circle. We meet weekly at Centennial Park.

Here’s an article by a South West Florida drummer about etiquette. 

  1. •Remove rings, watches, or dangling bracelets while playing drums. This protects the drumskin and drum body from accidental “hammering”
  2. •Ask permission before playing another’s drum. But… drummer’s do share, yes?! It’s how we all first started.
  3. •Remove your drum from the Circle if you are not drumming and room is needed. Make room for everyone to play comfortably.
  4. •Use a folding chair to sit on, a floor cloth for your feet, and shoulder straps for your drum. Take the load off your back, and leave your body free to drum.
  5. •Drumming is a very physical art form! Wear loose clothing, for ease of movement, and don’t fear sweating. Feel free to move!
  6. •Listen as much as play. By listening to what rhythm is being played, one senses how & where your beat can add to it.
  7. •Support the fundamental Beat that is drumming already. Let your creative spirit experiment with new beats while sustaining the established rhythm. Join in, then “wail”!!
  8. •Playing all the notes leaves no space for other’s beats, it’s all about community.
  9. •Please, Leave your “rhythm robot” (holding the same beat till it “kills everything it touches”) at home for practice sessions.
  10. •A Drum Circle isn’t like drumming alone. Lead AND follow!
  11. •Quiet notes are as powerful as loud ones, if played in harmony with the rhythm. Play softly enough to hear the others.
  12. •Support the dynamic changes in volume and tempo that happen throughout a Drum Circle. Be “responsive” to the moment!
  13. •Sharing a “drum dialogue” throughout a rhythm creates excitement for “soloists”. Engage your peers, and inspire the others!
  14. •Smoke (down wind) outside the Circle if the need to smoke arises. Drumming is a high-energy musical form. Please respect the need of everyone to breath clean air.
  15. •Challenge yourself to grow rhythmically. And to becoming a better musician and drummer. Grow!


Advice for Beginners

  1. •Enjoy the journey, and cause no pain. Listen, play, learn.
  2. •Worry-not if you think you are “rhythmically challenged”. Just… get started drumming, and let loose the natural rhythms already inside you.
  3. •A drum isn’t even necessary. Add to the beat with a shaker, bell, wood block, two sticks, flute, a song or chant, a dance… These are as important as anything!
  4. •Get UP and dance while playing your drum. You’ll be amazed at how the music lends sureness to your steps, which then inspires one’s hands and heart to play better. And happier!
  5. •Playing so softly that your drum never finds it’s “voice”? A drum’s whole purpose is to be heard, so…getting past the stage of merely “massage” it is empowering.
  6. •A drum has a wide tonality, but it needs percussive hand-strokes to produce it. It’s mute without that. Fingers may “tingle” at first, but playing conditions them fast.
  7. •The basic rhythm will always be there for one to “grab” on to, if one “get’s lost” while playing. Stop and listen for it.
  8. •Never fear “exuberance” and, simply, Accept you’ll make mistakes. Hey… Who don’t?!
  9. •Your drumming skill is secondary to how much of yourself you add to the circle. Share your spirit and have fun. The drumming will naturally come.
    Listen to all the world music genre you can. The library has lots to borrow from. Spanish, caribbean, Native peoples, European, Asian,…. The entire world has a rich history of celebrating life with drumming. Hey… motown, “oldy goldies”, and rock music contain wonderful beats to learn. My personal drum anthem is…”boom-shaga-laga-laga-boom”! What we have all listened to is what’s imprinted in our sub- conscious. Just… let your fingers recreate it!!

What words of etiquette do you share with fellow circle friends?

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