I play a 14" rope-tuned djembe and have been playing in drum circles for approximately 6 years. I was introduced to circles through my years of travel with the Grateful Dead. I always enjoyed listening to the drumming circles and often danced, but never participated in the actual drumming although I feel that I still reaped the benefits of the community and the music.
I purchased my drum about a year after getting a youth drum for my son (from X8drums.com) who was participating in an after school program to introduce drumming to children. I played his drum for a while and found that I reached another level of peacefulness and healing that I did not experience through just listening and dancing. The "healing" aspects of drumming are similar to what I have experienced with meditation, except with a rhythmic back beat that does not quit.
As recently reported in a USA Today article, The Rhythm of Life, "…it has been proven that participating in drum circles increases the number of beneficial macrophage cells in the body. These cells are those responsible for seeking out and destroying specific disease organisms." There is also the basic aspect of the excellent physical workout of playing as well as an avenue for stress release. Drumming has certainly added to my life in multiple aspects; time spent with my son drumming, stress release, healing cells to fight disease and the joy of hearing the thunder of drums on a regular basis. Where words fail music speaks!
Thank you for sharing your story, John! Drummers, tell us why YOU love drumming and drum circles! We'd love to share your story, too!