What is a drum circle?
It is a situation where people from different heritages and backgrounds come together and play drums or percussion instruments together. This kind of a session could be a jam where there is no leader as such or it could have a person keeping this music making activity together, coherent and relevant. This person is a drum circle facilitator. Some group drumming situations have no goal apart from making in-the-moment-music together and recreation. Some sessions can have deeper goals or objectives such as stress reduction, team building, creating group cohesion, building attention and concentration span, healing, impulse control, catharsis, community building and so on…

A Taal Inc. drum circle is a powerful experiential tool to experience the benefits of teamwork, team bonding, team building, group cohesiveness, competency mapping, communication strategies, leadership styles. How is this different from other team building activities in Pune? Apart from being an arts-based experiential activity, In a drum circle, the realization comes from the participants which serves as the strongest form of learning with the longest retention capability. 

Origin of Drum Circles
Group drumming is one of the oldest social phenomena that has been around since time immemorial. The more one researches, the more one finds that traditional indigenous groups have always come together and drummed. The multitude of folk drumming cultures that exist in India, the middle east, Africa, south and central America, the East are all examples of rhythm being celebrated as a community activity. The percussion instrument changed but what was common was the fact that people got together, drummed for a period of time, usually ate a meal together, socialized and then dispersed into their respective lives. Did they drum because it was a good team building activity team building activity, because it had tested psychological and physiological benefits, because it was a good stress buster, or a way to meet people from the community and other new folks, or because it was synonymous to living a complete life? My hunch is because of the latter.

Benefits of Drum Circles
In today’s day and age we have the benefit of science based empirical research; i.e reliability, validity and replicability. We are able to objectively test claimed benefits of an activity and ensure that these claims ring true with a certain degree of significance no matter where they are carried out. And what do we have to say about the benefits of drum circles as a team building activity? Drumming works! No matter where you are, how old you are, what gender you belong to or identify with, your level of musicianship, your heritage… Group drumming helps bring people together. Drum circles are an effective team building activity. Drumming helps reduce perceived stress. Drum circles help us communicate better, especially when words fail or seem overwhelming. Drumming helps us to build a connection with our cohort in a new way; one without old prejudices. Drum Circles bring to be in the moment, to the here and now. This experience in and of itself is known to be therapeutic. Drumming together helps us create, collaborate and communicate together. This can serve as a unique way to create space to find a solution to a problem that has been nagging you and your team for a while. We call this creating a space for incubation while the participants ruminate and work towards creative problem solving. Drumming enhances creativity and innovation. Imagine going through such a process together. No wonder that drum circles help to increase the morale of a group. We’ve seen and heard of a lot of layoffs that companies have had to make in recent times. This affects the morale of the entire workforce. It is paramount to ensure that there is a space for employees to voice their concerns, insecurities and worries. Drum Circles provide space for open and non judgemental communication. This is how drum circles facilitate better physical, mental and emotional health. In this way drum circles have evolved and are used in the modern world we live in.

Team Building using a Drum Circle
Today, drum circles are sold and marketed as strong tools that bring about team building with your company and workforce. How can you ensure that this activity truly does what it claims?

Check Credibility of the Facilitator
For starters, do make sure to check the credibility of the company or facilitator that you will be working with. Checking expertise and certification can help in identifying and categorizing the quality from the noise. At Taal Inc. all the facilitators have been certified by the Taal Inc. Find Your Inner Rhythm Intensive Course, have been through stringent and meticulous training and apprentice programs, and have had rigorous training with me.

Needs Analysis
Have you been through a process to ascertain the need for a team building activity? We understand that there are prescribed training topics and a number of hours that every employee needs to go through. Undertaking a short needs analysis survey or study can help corroborate the need for an activity and also help choose the right kind of activity for that particular point in time. In addition to this, it helps understand what the target audience already knows so that we don’t need to spend time repeating it. Going through this process may be tedious but it will help make the training sessions more relevant which in turn will increase participation numbers of your cohort

One-Off or Ongoing Sessions?
This point is connected to the previous one. A one-off session will feel great at that time however the takeaway effect may not be as long lasting as top management would expect. For this it is important to ensure regular or ongoing sessions with smaller groups of participants. Teamed with a strong needs analysis study, this point can help with customizing the sessions, incorporating feedback from participants and significantly ensuring a long lasting retention of the material taught.

Session Seating
This may seem like a minor point but the style or format of seating of a drum circle session really impacts the value and experience of a session. The term drum circle has the word ‘circle’ in it. Consequently, if you are a large group sitting in a theatre or cluster style seating, to maximize the effect, energy and learning of a session, work toward changing the seating format. Needless to say, this is easier said than done and may not flow with the other activities easily. But this is just the kind of consideration that can help enhance the overall experience of a
drum circle team building activity.

To sum up, I hope that this blog has helped to equip ourselves with information to build awareness of how drum circles can be the best team building activities for our companies and events. 

Come. Drum. Be One. 

Varun Venkit

Taal Inc.