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Taking the Leap and Getting Over Your Drum Circle Anxiety

Published by Kristin Stancato on 26th Mar 2015

Social anxiety is a problem we all face from time to time. It can rear its head in a “stage fright” manner, or in the total avoidance of any public situation. If you’ve ever had butterflies before a first date, an interview or before heading off to college, you’ve had a taste of social anxiety. Others may experience a more panicked state than just a fluttery stomach when faced with social situations, and the thought of even a friendly drum circle is enough to send them back to bed.

We know, of course, drum circles aren’t for everyone. The whole world, despite our deepest wishes, isn’t ready to grab a djembe or a tambourine and play within a group of people. Not only are you supposed to be in the company of strangers, but, you’re also expected to play an instrument. You may be sensitive to loud noises, feel you have no rhythm or really just hate the idea of a stereotypical drum circle. There’s a lot going on there, and we respect that.

But, there are others who may have walked by a drum circle and felt a pull in that direction. Maybe they’ve been invited to a community drum jam and just sat on the sidelines, tapping their toes or mentally pulsing with the beat. They’ve had the benefits of being near a drum circle or jam, but, they hesitate to jump in and join the fun. For those who want to get into the drumming action and need a little push to get past the anxiety, we have some thoughts for you:

  • Drumming helps you find a path to self-expression alongside a non-judgmental crowd who are all there to just feel the groove: self-expression is a voice for relieving anxiety.
  • Knowing you are not alone when you hesitate to get into the rhythm helps encourage a feeling of belonging and social acceptance with others in the same boat.
  • Banging, tapping or hitting a drum or percussion instrument is a way to feel powerful, engaged and in control of your life. When you do that with a group of people, the feeling of a interrelated empowerment can overcome you.
  • Drumming brings you back into the present, where the anxiety-driven brain has an easier time focusing on the task or drum at hand, not on a whirlwind of thoughts or fear of the social situation you’ve just landed in.
  • Group drumming illustrates group dynamics and communication through collective rhythm-making. It gives everyone a voice who wants to stand out, and it allows others to blend together in a chorus.

  • Any community activity like drumming brings together people with more common ground than networking mixers. You could make a rhythm buddy, just by showing up!
  • By the time the drumming has ended, you’ll wonder why you didn’t take that leap sooner. After all, you’ve had the image in your head for so long, and it was there for a reason – you need to drum.

Social anxiety cannot necessarily be cured by a drum circle, and we are not professional therapists with any amount of training that could say otherwise. But, we do understand our own reactions to drumming, drum circles and drum jams. We talk to others with similar experiences, as well as those with very different perspectives on the whole group drumming vibe. We see the difference in people after their first drum circle, and how it can be a great way to encourage less anxiety in social situations.

Perhaps the best part is that there’s no harm in trying your hand at drum circles or group drumming, and you may be delighted to discover how much you never knew you needed a drum circle in your life.