by Katy Gaughan
Hi! I’m Katy Gaughan and I am so grateful to be living in Old Greenbelt during the 2020 Pandemic. The small town feel helps with the isolation and the miles of walking paths helps with my wellness routine. I find that I’m happiest when I take 3 walks a day!
But the best part of being in Greenbelt is the acceptance of my neighbors that I’m a drummer who needs to drum! I am also a drum circle facilitator who offers drumming for wellness to all populations. Perhaps you’ve drummed with me at the 4th of July, Labor Day Fest, Green Man Fest, Crazy Quilt Fest or at The New Deal Cafe, where I offer drum circles on the first Saturday of the month.
Well, as you can imagine, drum circles are also being quarantined. 🙁 It’s so sad because we need that kind of togetherness and wellness support more than ever right now.
However, the good news is that drummers are resilient and drum circle facilitators are creative and collaborative! In the first few weeks of the shelter-in-place, I took part in webinars with drum circle facilitators (DCFs) from all over the world as we learned how to take our craft online. I got to practice with other DCFs and learned what works and what doesn’t work. After all that practice, I felt confident to offer my First Saturday drum circle in April on Zoom. I was SO excited and spent hours getting ready! There were about 50 people on my Zoom drum circle and everything was going well for about 5 minutes … and then WE GOT BOMBED! Oh boy. It was awful. I won’t go into the details here but needless to say, you really don’t want to get Zoom-bombed. It’s pretty embarrassing.
But I was not deterred and forged ahead!
Since then, I’ve had FOUR successful Zoom drum circles that had participants from as close as down the street and as far away as Greece, Chile and Spain! It’s a whole new world! It’s really amazing to connect my local community with a wider community through the drum. And while the actual drumming together online doesn’t really translate because of the audio delay, the fun is in finding new ways we can connect through music. Once we get used to the virtual platform, people can relax and have fun and by the end of our hour, I see smiles stretching from ear to ear. From all this good work, I’ve now been hired by two organizations to lead virtual drum circles!
Most days though, I’m just doing old school drumming – drumming in my back yard! Sometimes I go live on Facebook to share these drumming sessions and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes a couple of friends come by and we social-distance drum, and sometimes it’s just me. But the drum sings out and rings out and I know that its vibrations reach my neighbors and folks walking by. 99.9% of the time people are appreciative of the drum. And yes, I’m aware of the .01% who would prefer quiet, so I am mindful of my actions.
The drum grounds us, reminds us that we’re all connected by the heartbeat and invites us to dance. When I drum in my backyard, I am inspired by the folks all over the world who sing to their neighbors each evening, or by the cheers that go out to the essential workers in the urban centers at a certain time each day. My drumming is in solidarity with all that expressiveness to say “We Are In This Together!”
So, keep your ears open and listen … if you hear a drum beat in Old Greenbelt, it might just be me!
To learn more about Drumming for Wellness, visit KatyGaughan.com.
I look forward to when we can drum together IN PERSON soon! Meanwhile, be safe and stay well!
Editor’s note: like all performers, drummers need our support! Here’s how to support Katy’s good work.
NOTE: By contributing these pandemic stories, photos, et cetera, Greenbelters are making an unconditional donation of the material to the nonprofit Greenbelt Online.org and the Greenbelt Museum/City of Greenbelt, which reserve the right to keep, lend, or otherwise dispose of the donated material, and may use the material on our website, for social media or other postings, in promotional materials or in future exhibits.