First of all, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to represent the Meinl VivaRhythm (now Meinl Percussion) Indian drum circle. I absolutely love their range of beautiful, colorful, thoughtful, unique and creative set of drum circle instruments for rhythm facilitators of all kinds… Head on over to the Taal Inc. YouTube channel to go through my detailed instrument review videos of the Meinl VivaRhythm range of drum circle instruments.

Now, let’s get down to the question and answer

1. When did the Drum Circle activity / method arouse your interest and when did you start drumming?

Ans: I’ve been drumming since as long as I can remember. After encouraging me to find rhythm in all things around me, it was my father who taught me my first rhythm on the drumkit; the Bossanova. My dad used to play the drums and guitar in his IIT Kharagpur days. Throughout my schooling and my college years, one thing was common; rhythm. I started playing, performing and hence teaching percussion at a young age. Working with a mixed age group of drum students made me dig deep into (what I only learned much later to be) my facilitation skills and address the needs of each individual while using a ‘collective’/group approach or a drum circle facilitation approach. That feeling of helping people who would have never even touched a drum before actually play their first rhythms (however simple it may be) is a very empowering feeling. This is when I knew that I would make my new found passion of group drumming, my profession. As time passed, my pursuit of various traditional percussion cultures (Mridangam, djembe, congas, drumkit) and my masters in clinical psychology helped me understand both bodies of knowledge better. This led to a lot of progress on the practical front where I was well equipped to work with a wide range of groups (corporate, schools, colleges, communities, special needs groups, at risk groups, recreational groups and so on) in addition to the theoretical front (with a lot of academic publications and research)

2. How would you describe your personal philosophy regarding your Drum Circle activities and their magic?

Ans: My personal philosophy about drum circles is very simple. Everybody can drum. Group Drumming or drum circles in India are synonymous to life. Rhythm is life. Tapping into this universal source of energy every now and again is helpful to maintain a healthy way of life. Many activities help to access a ‘Flow’ state. Drumming is my go-to activity and through my experience I have learned many ways to share with others to pursue this path. Drum circle events work regardless of age, genger, race, level of musicianship or background. This is the unifying power of drumming and the arts. Many principles of group drumming are applicable in other settings and hence when a group shows a certain behaviour in a drum circle it is a much stronger way to communicate a particular objective to that group. Experience is a powerful teacher. Group drumming is proof of this… 

3. What do you think is special about the Drum Circle activity / method and what makes it different from other Indian drum circles or  rhythm-based events?

Ans: Each and every participant of a drum circle event takes back something unique after a session. The participant feels accepted, like they belong, loved unconditionally and relaxed. This helps them access a deeper state of being without even knowing… This facilitates the expression of pent up energy, emotions and stress. This, in turn contributes toward the overall health and wellbeing of the participant. So whether it is just to have fun, express yourself, catharsis or a deep therapeutic experience, a drum circle event helps you the way you decide you want to be helped. This is very valuable in my opinion. 

4. What/which situation, experience, or story made the biggest impression on you personally during one of your drum circle events? 

Ans: It is tough to pinpoint just ONE experience since in my journey with Taal Inc. since 2006, we’ve had a lot of people drum with us. Some of my most spiritual experiences have been while drumming with a group of participants from various backgrounds. Some of my best friends are people I have met and gotten to know through drum circles in India. Some of my biggest learning moments have been through drumming with new audiences everyday. If there is one thing I can credit for who I am today, it is Drum circles. I’m eternally grateful and will always be the best I can be, in service, when drumming with a group. 

Come. Drum. Be One. 
Varun Venkit
Team Taal Inc.