Dr. Bob to present drum circle workshop at 2015 Percussive Arts Society International Convention

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dr. Bob will present a workshop at the 2015 PASIC held in San Antonio this November 11-14.  The topic of his workshop is “Drum Circles for University Students.”  He teaches a drum circle class at MSU for the First-Year Experience (FYE) program and facilitates drum circles for recreational, cultural, and educational events throughout Mississippi.  Many colleges and universities have instituted a FYE program to help students transition from high school to college and, thereby, achieve long-term success at the university.  These programs support new students by fostering a feeling of belonging in the university community.  There are many ways in which the outcomes of a drum circle class correspond to the goals of the FYE.  The drum circle provides an invaluable social experience because the participants depend on each other for the ensemble to succeed.  The drum circle celebrates diversity because everyone who participates has something to offer the circle and all are welcome.  Recreational drumming is a sharing ex­perience that promotes community interaction and, because the group is united in a common goal, members gain a sense of belonging and acceptance.  FYE seminars are generally classes which feature active learning, discussion, and hands-on experiential learning opportunities.  Certainly the drum circle is a model of active engagement.  Dr. Bob will discuss lesson plans for the recreational drum circle class including detailed instructions for featuring free style drumming, the drum call, welcome songs, culturally inspired grooves, simple percussion ensemble compositions, various musical concepts (meter, timbre, texture, dynamics, and form), foundational rhythms (i.e. a specified metric pattern, clave rhythm, or heartbeat ostinato), and  extra-music themes (e.g. Ubuntu, peace, joy, creativity, unity, communication, friendship, and entrainment).

A three-minute video highlighting drumming and student comments from Dr. Bob’s MSU drum circle class may be accessed at this site:


While at the convention, Dr. Bob will also serve on an Interactive Drumming Committee panel discussion entitled “Community Engagement with Drum Circles.”  Topics for discussion include how drumming can bring community diversity to organizations and how drumming can serve as a bridge between music departments and the general university student body.   Dr. Bob serves on the PAS Interactive Drumming Committee which promotes drum circles for their musical and extra-musical benefits.  John Fitzgerald, the chair of the PAS Interactive Drumming Committee, wrote that “Damm’s groundbreaking freshmen orientation drum circle class will also be discussed as a model for other colleges and universities to emulate.”

Dr. Bob’s workshop is sponsored by the PAS Interactive Drumming Committee and Remo, Inc. and supported by the MSU Department of Music, the MSU College of Education, and the MSU Office of Research and Economic Development. 



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