Davenport drum circle brings community together

Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2012, 11:50 pm
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By Laura Anderson Shaw landerson@qconline.com
Whether drum circle members played with any rhyme or reason, it didn't matter — they were playing together.

Roughly a dozen folks of all ages gathered at River Music Experience in Davenport on Saturday morning for a community drum circle.

Before the jam session began, they chatted, sipped coffee and hot cocoa and selected their instruments.

"Alright, you guys ready to play?" facilitator Terry Hanson said. The group quieted down and readied their instruments.

"Let's do a little playing," Mr. Hanson said.

With a drum between his legs, Mr. Hanson lead the group with an overall beat. Soon, the group joined in with a variety of percussion instruments and hand drums, some tall and sort of cylindrical like the conga, others shaped more like over-sized grails like the djembe.

After several minutes on one beat, Mr. Hanson would stop the group, pause and restart with a new beat. Drummers swapped out their instruments during each session, trading for cowbells, tambourines, bongos and more.

After each segment hit its groove, Mr. Hanson would smile and look around the room, nodding his head and rocking his shoulders to the beat. Some drummers in the circle mimicked his movement, while others only tapped their toes.

In the middle of a jam, Mr. Hanson called 8-year-old Layla Eygabroad, of Bettendorf, to his section of the circle to lead the group with a cowbell and a drumstick.

"Don't listen to them," he told her between sets. "They're supposed to follow you."

Mr. Hanson handed out tambourines for another set, instructing players to shake them with one hand and hit them with the other when Layla hit the high bell.

"Beautiful," he said once the music picked up. For those still holding drums, "just kind of fall in and have some fun," he said.

"It's all about playing together."

Layla's mom, Rachel Eygabroad, said the drum circles sounded like a great event to bring kids to.

"It's been awesome," she said.

Layla's siblings Chase, 2, and Dominic, 4, were also nearby, drumming on bongos and shaking handmade maracas, which were bottles filled with gravel.

Ms. Eygabroad said her boyfriend, Sanjay Sundar, of Davenport, had heard about the circle and the two decided to bring the kids. Saturday was their second drum circle.

"The kids get to play music that they wouldn't get to play at home," Ms. Eygabroad said. The circles also offer them the chance to "play with other people, too."

Attendees said they loved the diversity of the drum circle. Kids like Layla could jump right in and play, and professional musicians like Robyn McVey, of Rock Island, could learn a thing or two, too.

Ms. McVey, a singer/songwriter who plays guitar, said she picked up drumming to help her with her rhythm.

She has been bringing her 13-year-old son, Robert, to drum circles for a couple of years now.

"I found out that drums are way fun," Ms. McVey said.

She enjoys coming in and trying out new instruments, she said, and as Mr. Hanson told her, "you can't make a mistake."

Mr. Hanson said RME has hosted community drum circles for about six years now.

It's about "having fun and playing drums together," he said.Once the group finds its groove, "It's very neat."

And whether someone is a seasoned drummer or they're picking up a drum for the first time, "everybody is equal in a drum circle," he said.

Mr. Hanson has seen folks of all ages join the circle, from 6-month-old babies to 80- and 90-year-old adults.

"Inside everybody, there's a drummer," he said.

Joan Marttila, of Bettendorf, said being a part of drum circle is all about paying attention to the rhythm and replicating or complementing the beat.

"It's fun," she said.

Her friend, Linda Neuman, of LeClaire, agreed.

Ms. Neuman said she and Ms. Marttila have frequented the drum circle in the past, but it has been almost a year since they have attended.

And the two were glad they came.

"It's a connection," Ms. Neuman said. "It's a neat connection with random people that show up to enjoy an hour (of playing together,)" she said.

While the mind focuses on the beat, it's "freeing," Ms. Neuman said.

"[You're] getting into the groove with other people's heart beats."

Check out a drum circle in the Quad-Cities

Community Drum Circle, 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. on the last Saturday of every month, River Music Experience, 129 N. Main Street, Davenport. $5; $2.50 for children ages 12 and younger. Instruments are provided, but feel free to bring your own drum or percussion instrument. (563) 326-1333, For more information, visit rivermusicexperience.org.

River Circle drum circle, 1 p.m. on the last Sunday of each month, Singing Bird Nature Center, Black Hawk State Historic Site, 1510 46th Ave., Rock Island. Explore a variety of spiritual practices, drumming circle and other activities such as meditation, sound healing, fire ceremonies and more. For more information, visit rivercircle.org.

Visit the Quad Cities Drum Circle group on Facebook at facebook.com/groups/QuadCitiesDrumCircle for other drum circle events in the area.


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