I work at a homeless shelter and would like to start drumming with our indigenous women but I feel like I don’t know enough about my culture to teach them. Any tips?

Hi Jasmine, It takes a lot of courage to reconnect to yourself and share that with others. I’m proud of you.

We know that music-making, especially when doing it with others can have an incredibly positive impact on one’s physical, spiritual health, and mental health. And, it can greatly impact the health of the community. It reduces anxiety and depression and can increase social resilience…and it has a lasting effect! So, I salute you for sharing this with others.

What I have observed when others have told me things like ‘oh, I could never do (x) as well as (so and so)’ , or ‘I can’t do that because I wasn’t taught properly’, or ‘I wasn’t raised traditionally’ is that if you compare yourself others where they’re currently at then you’ll of course call short. Instead, think about others when they were just getting started. When we first get started with anything we often have similar emotions; fear, uncertainly, lower-self-esteem, nervousness or maybe anxiety. No one starts off doing things perfectly. Give yourself enough space and know that it’s okay if it doesn’t look like perfect. There’s no one way for doing anything. And most of all give yourself props for your courage in getting started.

Now, to get started with your drum group:

  • Start talking to folks. Check with your…
    • Tribal Office. They may know of local drum groups who may be able to help.
    • Cultural Department. They may host or be able to direct you to cultural workshops that might help with drum making or at least other workshops you and your ladies may want to join. They may also be able to connect you with someone who drums and sings.
    • Tribal Members. Never underestimate the power of the tribal grapevine. If you’re looking for a mentor, let folks know. By talking to just a of couple people, you’re expanding your reach to those they know…your other relatives.
    • Ancestors. Let them know what you’re trying to do and ask them for their help and guidance. I can’t imagine any greater joy or pride they might have than to have you show up for yourself and those you serve.
  • YouTube It. Like with most other subjects, there’s a ton of video’s on how to make your own drums. This could be a great place to start with your group, if you don’t already have drums.

I just want to reiterate how powerful this can be for yourself and the women you work with. I know that whenever I hear the heartbeat of the drum, something happens inside, and I feel instantly grounded and connected to my ancestors and my relatives.

Best of luck to you! I’ll be sending you my thoughts and prayers.

Auntie Manda

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