Sunday, July 22, 2012

In review--Power Drum Circles


Christine Stevens
Music Medicine
The Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound
Sounds True (publishing date: August 1, 2012)

I joined my first drum circle at a Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle during the 1990s.  A master Brazilian percussionist handed out exotic percussion and drums, gave us a quick lesson, then off we went.  The drum circle took place in a large tent that vibrated with polyrhythms of the 20+ drummers and percussionist that gathered. While I felt self-conscious, I still enjoyed myself and all the drummers participating in the circle.  You didn’t even need to know the others’ names and still feel bonded to them.

Flash forward to 2009, when I interviewed master percussionist Will Clipman, mainly known for his musical contributions to Canyon Records artists, especially R. Carlos Nakai.  Will opened up the world of drumming to me with his masterful global percussion practice and his debut solo album, Pathfinder.  Now, another master drummer and drum circle facilitator Christine Stevens has captured my ears and heart with her book, Music Medicine (The Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound).

I have reviewed global music since 2002 and I have come across numerous master drummers hailing from Brazil to Iran, Turkey, to India and beyond.  I’m also familiar with the music-mind-body connection, the latest research on sound healing, music therapy, and psychoacoustics.  I immersed myself in the pages of Stevens’ book and watched videos on YouTube of Christine leading a healing drum circle in Iraq as well as, the documentary, The Singing Revolution where Estonian people liberated them self from Communist Russia (Soviet Union) through singing en mass.  In fact, Stevens’ book provided a crash course in the healing power of music, combined with a refresher course on global music and sound healing traditions.

Unfortunately, I only have a galley copy of the book so I’m unable to quote from it, and I did not have access to the music that accompanies the exercises in the book.  However, Christine stuffs this book to the brim with useful and even, fascinating information about music therapy, drum circles, while sharing her knowledge of global rhythms and musical styles.  She gives readers plenty of personal stories and she shares some of her clients’ experiences.  Her writing flows well, and I felt excited by what I read.  I highly recommend this thoughtful and comprehensive treatise on drum and music medicine.  Joining the ranks of Don Campbell, Daniel Levitan, Joshua Leeds, and Oliver Sacks, Stevens’ Music Medicine gets hearts beating, feet tapping, and heads turning.  I’m ready to join a drum circle and start my own healing music revolution.