Article By; Nick Grupido
Over the weekend I traveled to Oregon. Drove there from Michigan in only 6 hours – truly! Oregon, Illinois that is, near other towns called Norway, Peru, Lisbon, and Geneva. It seems the region was settled by a lot of nostalgic people. My wife and I went there for a family wedding, which was very nice. In the evening while trying to recognize more than one song from the mix of RAP and Hip-Hop the DJ was playing, I pondered the human penchant for rhythm, in all forms. With the beats of my least favorite musical genres thumping through the room, the drum beats eventually became enjoyable.
Drums are the oldest known musical instrument, some dating back as far as 5500BC. Through the years, drums found use in rituals, war, communication and entertainment. For example, a troupe of drummers entertained the attendees at the SRI meeting in Taiwan, 2018, demonstrating both artistic flair and ritualistic rhythms.
Even today, drums serve more purposes than entertainment and making music. Drumming in a group, or drum circle can bring satisfaction and release of the stresses we live with on a daily basis.
Drum Circles date back to ancient times and, in the more modern era, to the 1960’s and 1970’s in the USA. A drum circle is an end in itself, the purpose being to come together within a community or group of friends to share some time making interesting rhythms. It’s a nice way to participate musically with a group of people, even if you have no training or prior experience playing an instrument. Everyone plays at basically the same level, and everyone contributes to the experience.
Below you can see Ool Pardi who, when not working in the construction trades, coordinates several drum circles around northern Oakland County in Michigan.
I met Ool when he arrived at our house for a drum circle meeting sponsored by my wife’s boss. He brought with him a range of percussion instruments and drums from about 12” diameter up to 3” diameter. Most of the drums were hand-made by Ool using buffalo hide and sinew, much the way such drums have been hand-made since man figured out that stretched hide creates a great resonance.
Ool teaches that drumming, used in healing in every culture since the dawn of man, releases endorphins, enkephalins, and helps generate alpha waves; all are key ingredients to improve your sense of well-being. Indeed, research headed by Professor Daniel J Levitin at McGill University found that listening to and playing music increases the body’s production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells — the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness. Music also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Who would have guessed that banging on drums with friends is not only fun, but good for you!
In addition to coordinating drum circles, Ool teaches people to make their own drums. My wife and I joined a session and made the drums seen here.
We used materials provided by Ool for the drums: soaked buffalo hide and sinew with wooden frames made from ash. If you look to the images, the process may come to you intuitively. Anchor a sinew through a hole in the hide at one point. Then weave the sinew across the opening behind the hide to the next hole, keeping a fair amount of tension to assure the drumhead is tight. Repeat until all holes are connected. Next, stretch the binds even more to draw the hide tightly against the frame. When tight to your feeling, tie off the end. During this process, be sure to keep the hide centered on the frame.
Now select four adjacent strands and, starting at the center, wrap those into a bundle. The purpose of wrapping is to tighten the drumhead even further. Note you will drop off some strands while wrapping, do so when it seems they those strands should need no further stretching. Note the result will have some curve to it, this is normal. Finally, tie the wrap near the frame. Keep in mind, this stretching and tightening is done while the hide and sinew are soaked; once dry, both materials shrink even further. It takes a lot of tension to have a good drumhead!
Once all the sinews are wrapped, set the drum aside and do not play it for at least 3 days. You want everything to be thoroughly dried before creating any vibrations in the materials. It was hard to avoid trying the drums sooner since we wanted to hear the results of our work.
We have tried these drums since their creation. The tone is different on each of our drums. Also, humidity will affect the drum since it changes the tension and resonance in the material. While it was a lot of fun to make our own drums, it will be even more fun to use them in the next drum circle.
You are all welcome to join the drum circle at our house on October 12 this year. Let me know if you’re interested to join for some relaxing and fun drumming!
One of the last outdoor drum circles is this Saturday, October 12, at 6:00 pm, at Barb and Nick Grupido back yard in Ortonville. Bring your instrument. I have a few extra too if you don`t. Will bring the two large buffalo drums to do some trance rhythms with. Let`s heat ourselves up for the cooler half of the year. $10 suggested a donation.
2186 Bird Road, Ortonville, MI 48462
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with Ool Pardi
Hosting Family- Nick & Barb Grupido
2186 Bird Rd, Ortonville, MI 48462
– To help Ool continue his healing work, a $10 donation is recommended.
– Bring a percussion instrument if you have one but not necessary. Ool has extra to share.
– We will be outdoors at the Grupido Farm.
What does drumming do for the mind?
Drumming has been used in healing in every culture since the dawn of man, and for good reason.
It releases endorphins, enkephalins, and alpha waves which are key ingredients for improving your sense of well being. The physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain synchronizes the left and the right brain. When your logical left brain and the intuitive right are in harmony, your inner guidance system or intuition becomes stronger. The sound of drumming generates new neuronal connections in all parts of the brain, integrating our experiences and deepening our sense of self-awareness. Science has only scratched the surface regarding the influence of the mind on healing, however, traditional healers have been aware of this connection for centuries. But science is finally starting to pay attention,
and study is being devoted to the effect of drumming on a brain-related illness such as Parkinson, autism,
stroke victims and headaches. This is a vibrational healing is a soothing meditation for anxiety.
What does drumming do for the body?
You may hear traditional healers talk about the mind/body connection, but what does this mean?
Simply put, an unhealthy mind generally results in an unhealthy body. They are interconnected. For example, people who worry a lot tend to suffer from stomach related disorders. Likewise, those who are under great stress tend to suffer from heart-related illnesses. Chinese medicine states that emotions correspond with organs; grief resides in the lungs, anger in the liver and so on. Drumming has a number of effects on the body. It can help control chronic pain by producing endorphins and endogenous opiates, which are the body’s natural pain killers. It boosts the immune system by increasing the production of T-Cells and lowering cortisol levels. Decreased cortisol levels also allow a healthy production of serotonin and dopamine. This means that drumming can have a positive effect on many conditions such as anxiety, depression, and various mental illnesses.
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