Teach Peace with World Rhythms
By Tom Alteen, M.B.A., B.Voc.Ed. (September 15, 2019)
City of St. John's 2019 Youth and the Arts Program
"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children."
- Mahatma Gandhi
Playing percussion instruments is very primal; I am not aware of a culture, region, or country that does not have a percussion instrument as part of its heritage.
I believe that teaching and learning multicultural rhythms assists with cross-cultural understandings that can only help in today's troubled world.
Countries, like the human beings that inhabit them, are not perfect. When we focus on the flaws, it is easy to lose sight of the many special and shared cultural and regional attributes. While each culture, region, or country is unique, I believe we are more alike than we are different.
For the Musubi Drum Circles 2019 Newfoundland Summer Tour, I put together a drum circle plan that included global rhythm seeds. When introducing each rhythm, I provided a brief, positive, light-hearted profile of the region or country of origin or inspiration.
In August 2019, I had the pleasure of facilitating two drum circles at The Gathering, in Burlington, Newfoundland. While I attempted to deliver rhythm events that were tailored to each group, I naturally included some of the world rhythms that were well rehearsed during my summer tour.
At the end of the second drum circle, I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Alfreda Penney (above photo), a retired school teacher. During our conversation she said "You teach peace," and kindly presented me with a "Teach Peace" painted rock memento.
Her comments were quite insightful—I never really though of what I do as teaching peace but drum circles do provide forums for interaction that have as many faces as the people in attendance. Everybody is equal in the drum circle and when people drum together they participate in a shared human tradition that transcends spoken language. When we "lock in" with a groove, the exhilaration is difficult to describe verbally but is an experience that is not soon forgotten. Drumming, like the human heart beat, can be a commonality that binds us together as citizens of the world.
So in summary, as drum circle facilitators, we can do our part to teach peace by using world rhythm seeds that overcome the limitations of spoken language and promote cross-cultural understandings.