Musubi Drum Circles, About Tom Alteen
Musubi Entrance  

About Tom Alteen

(Photo by Christopher Deacon, 2019)

Musubi Drum Circles is an opportunity for Tom Alteen to combine his educational, drumming, teaching, and Aikido experiences to serve the community.


Tom's qualifications include:

  • HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming Facilitation Training (Basic)
  • Certificate of Achievement French Beginner 1
  • Certificate East Coast Facilitators Intensive Training (2018)
  • Certificate Drum Circle Leadership Level I
  • Certificate Primary Health Care Collaboration
  • Bachelors Degree in Vocational Education
  • Bachelors Degree in Business Administration
  • Masters Degree in Business Administration
  • Diploma in Information Technology

Above (left) is a picture of Tom with Remo HealthRHYTHMS instructor Frank Thompson during his recent training in McMinnville, Oregon.

Below (left) is a photo of Tom with Rhythm Ambassador, Arthur Hull, during the 2017 Drum Circle Facilitators Guild (DCFG) Annual Conference in Myrtle Beach. Tom subsequently received a scholarship to attend the 2018 DCFG Annual Conference, once again in Myrtle Beach. This scholarship made it more financially viable for him to particpate in Village Music Circles' 6-Day East Coast Facilitators Intensive Training with Arthur Hull and Nellie Hill, that was held immediately after the conference.

During 2019 and 2020, Tom had the honour of serving on the DCFG Conference Scholarship Committee.

Tom's Certificate Drum Circle Leadership Training Level I (2014) was issued by Jim Donovan (sponsored by St. Francis University). Shown in the photo below is Tom with instructors Jim Donovan (centre) and Mike Deaton (right).

Tom is a member of the Drum Circle Facilitators Guild (DCFG), a professional association of drum circle facilitators; Business & Arts NL, established to strengthen the relationship between business and the arts; and MusicNL, existing to address key issues affecting the Newfoundland and Labrador music industry.

"I consider every drummer that ever played before me an influence, in every way."
- Buddy Rich

Tom's percussion teaching influences include:

Tom is a strong believer in lifelong learning and seeks out drumming related workshops, clinics, circles, and other learning opportunities. The first photo above (left to right, top to bottom) is with drumming great, Benny Greb, at a local drum clinic (2013) hosted by Long & McQuade. The middle photo on the top row is with Jorge Luis Torres "Papiosco," an accomplished Cuban/jazz percussionist who led a workshop with his band, the Iroko Project, during the 2014 Wreckhouse International Jazz and and Blues Festival in St. John's. The third photo, top row, is with African Drum Master M'bemba Bangoura after a group lesson at Wula Drum in Queens, New York (2013). The first photo on the bottom row is with the diversely talented Chris Sutherland, at a local drum clinic (2018) hosted by Long & McQuade. The middle photo on the bottom row is with the famous jazz percussionist and teacher, Barry James, after a private drum lesson in Orlando, Florida (2018). The third photo on the bottom row is with Zale Seck, author, composer, performer, and musician, after a group drumming class at SARFest 2019 in St. John's.

Clients and Gigs

Besides hosting regular drum circles at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre, a number of public and private seniors' residences, and special interest groups, Tom has facilitated drum circles during the:


Tom's first interview regarding Musubi Drum Circles was in the VOCM St. John's studio with Claudette Barnes, on February 22, 2015. (This interview is a great overview as to what a drum circle is all about.)

VOCM St. John's Interview

While on his 2016 West Coast of Newfoundland Road Trip, Tom was also interviewed by Bernice Hillier of CBC Radio, Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Below is a link to the interview that was aired on the West Coast Morning Show.

CBC Radio West Coast Morning Show Interview

On October 16, 2017, Tom once again had the pleasure of being interviewed by Claudette Barnes with VOCM regarding the Beat A Drum For Multiple Myeloma fundraiser.

VOCM St. John's Interview

Tom Alteen was interviewed by Annie Corrigan on June 8, 2018, with Sound Symposium regarding his creative rhythm event at Sound Symposium X1X.

Sound Symposium XIX Interview

Andrew Waterman, a Journalism Student at the College of the North Atlantic, conducted an audio interview with Tom after one of his public drum circles on February 24, 2019. Tom took the liberty of creating a video that is basically a slideshow with Andrew's edited audio file as its foundation.

Andrew Waterman Interview


(Original Crosstown Traffic 2019 Reunion Slideshow)

(Photo by John Eaton, 2013)

Tom grew up in Corner Brook where he played drums in the local bands Red Eye, Crosstown Traffic, and Cadillac. Below is a picture of Tom playing with Crosstown Traffic Percussionist, Jim Coleman, during the Crosstown Traffic Reunion in 2010.

(Photo by John Reid, 2010)

Shortly after moving to St. John's, in the mid 80s, Tom played with The Three of Clubs. In recent years, Tom drummmed for Prosser's Rock, a local classic rock band. He is currently a percussionist with Dunungbe, a traditional West African djembe and doundoun performance group (photo below).

(Photo by Frances Dicks, 2017)

Tom attended his first drum circle during a rumba workshop hosted by Afro-Cuban Master Percussionist Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo at the Beaches in Toronto during Summer 2011.

"I enjoyed this experience so much that I wanted to make community drumming a regular part of my life and to share this recreational activity with others."

Shortly after this community drumming experience in Toronto, Tom became a regular lead drummer with Alive Adventures' community drum circles, facilitated by Katie Power (shown with Tom in the photo above).

Tom has also played with a small percussion ensemble that hand drummed for Dounia Hamoutene's African dancers affiliated with the Jill Dreaddy DanceCo.


Besides Tom's Aikido teaching experiences outlined below, he was the Management Infomation Systems (MIS) Education Leader/General Instructor at St. Clare's Mercy Hospital (1985 - 1989) and was a Part-time Faculty Member with Memorial University of Newfoundland's School of Business Administration (1995 - 2000).

Workshops and Presentations

Prior to his planned retirement from the Provincial Public Service in 2015, Tom was a Project Manager with the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information and has managed large and small projects alike.

Coupled with his many years of teaching experiences, he is well positioned to organize workshops and fundraisers, to present at special events, and to partner with other people and organizations to offer unique rhythm events.


(Photo by Roland Skinner, 2007)

Tom began practicing Aikido (sometimes referred to as the "peaceful martial art") in 1985 and taught from 1992 until he retired in 2008. Prior to his retirement, Tom received his Third Degree Black Belt (Sandan) and official teaching accreditation (Fukushidoin) from the United States Aikido Federation in 2007. Such being the case, he is well versed in the traditional relaxation techniques that are used pre- and post-practice.

Having a keen interest in teaching, he began his Aikido teaching career as a Guest Instructor during Summer 1992 at the Memorial University Aikido Club.  In 1993, he founded Hydro Aikikai, a non-profit private dojo for the employees and their families at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

In 2004, Tom was invited to join Fudoshin Aikikai where he served as Chief Instructor until 2007.

The photo above is with Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu during an Aikido seminar in Montreal in 1992.

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