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Give drumming a try at Women’s Drum Center

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Classes foster mind-body connection

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Bettie Seitzer was looking for a musical community nine years ago, and found it at the Women’s Drum Center (2242 University Ave. W.).
The blue and bluegrass musician had worked in a traveling band until she got married and started a family. At her first class, she knew she would be drumming for a long time. She now serves as the center’s executive director, leads “Women Who Groove,” and teaches two beginning level classes.
The Women’s Drum Center (WDC) offers beginning level, intermediate and advanced level classes in stick and hand drumming to any interested women. There are co-ed classes in beginning and advanced level West African drumming, and a monthly “Beat Cabin Fever” series offered for adults and children in the winter months. Workshops in 2020 will focus on unique instruments, including the African xylophone (called gyil). WDC offers private lessons; Health Rhythm programs at offsite community centers and care facilities; and facilitators for drumming at birthday parties, retirement parties and other group gatherings.

How can the center help people be healthier in mind, body and spirit?
Seitzer: There is a growing body of research that demonstrates the health benefits of drumming; it enhances feelings of well-being, challenges mind and body through learning a new activity and creates a sense of community and collaboration that many people are longing for these days.
Drumming fosters a mind-body connection through engagement in a new activity where we use our muscles differently and learn new things every time we drum. Experts agree that learning new things keeps our brains flexible and young!
I like to tell my participants that by drumming they are creating new neural pathways and synapses. I am privileged to hear from so many of my participants how drumming has improved their lives. Just a few examples:
• One participant had struggled with insomnia for years, she found that her ability to relax and sleep improved significantly
• Another member came to us after the loss of her husband, she said she hadn’t smiled in months and drumming has brought a new joy into her life. She smiles all the way through class now!
• Multiple people have told me that they feel a very warm sense of community, and refer to their classmates as the “sisters they chose for themselves”.
Participants tell me that at the end of class they feel both relaxed and energized! I have found that to be true myself.

How does drumming contribute to mindfulness and centering?
Drumming engages our bodies through movement; each class is geared to a skill level so that participants find easy things and slightly challenging things each time they attend. The motions of drumming become automatic and allow a person to really “be in the moment.” I am always delighted with how quickly a group falls into sync, playing together with a shared sense of pulse – that shared experience furthers the centering that people tell me they experience. The shared energy and experience allow the cares of the world to just drift away.
It is such a unique experience that it takes us outside ourselves into a clam state of being – even when we are playing very energetic pieces!

What is the history of the WDC?
The Women’s Drum Center (WDC) began in 1989, started by Colleen Hass who wanted to create drumming opportunities for women. One of the most common stories I hear from women joining a class is that they always wanted to drum but were told that women could not be drummers!
I think that there has been a significant change and more and more women are drumming in school and outside schools. The WDC is the only Women Centered non-profit drum center in the country (that we know of) and offers very affordable classes and lessons.

How can people get involved?
Getting involved is super easy! Our website calendar lists all of the options – womensdrumcenter.org. Most people start with one of the beginning level classes; those classes function on a drop-in basis so people can start at any time. The WDC has a vast inventory of equipment so it is not necessary to own a drum; one of our core values is to “share our drums.”

Any other comments?
My experience as a teacher and participant have deeply enriched my life, and while drumming may not be for everyone, I do think people should give it a try!






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