Drumming on the Common welcomes all participants

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Tue., Jul. 5, 2011
Joyce Popiak plays a Kokopelli drum while Kristi Durocher plays a Tabla at the Tuesday night drumming circle.  Photos by Denise Coffey.
Joyce Popiak plays a Kokopelli drum while Kristi Durocher plays a Tabla at the Tuesday night drumming circle. Photos by Denise Coffey.

A small group of people gathered to enjoy a lively drumming circle on the Thompson Common on June 28. The brainchild of the Rev. Dr. Jennifer S. Cook, pastor of the Thompson Congregational Church, the drum circle is open to everyone.

“Drumming is a healthy activity,” said Cook. “It is also relational and community-building, which is an important part of our faith.”
Cook cradled an 18” djembe, an African drum meant to be played with one's hands. The church's music minister, Susan Markham, played a buffalo drum. Beverly Carliell's hands tapped out sounds on the doumbek, a sort of chalice-shaped drum whose origins are thought to be thousands of years old. Another Congregationalist shook a Y-shaped branch with pods that made rattling noises.

Kristi Durocher had seen the sign about Tuesday night drumming posted on the Thompson Common. Durocher is the music minister at the Putnam Baptist Church. The gathering gave her a chance to do something she loved with others. It also gave her a chance to talk about music and children’s choirs, about juggling musical goals and keeping the kids interested. She had found that the kids loved banging on the posts in the church basement.

“When you whack them, they make a great sound,” she said.

Durocher brought a few of her own drums to the circle. She played an Indian drum called a tabla. Durocher's friend, Joyce Popiak, used a Kokopelli drum. Figures of the fertility deity ringed the drum.

There were no scores or sheet music to follow. The drummers made whatever sounds they wanted. Drum beats joined with the sounds of traffic passing through the four-way intersection and birds singing under a pale blue sky. The steeple of the church rose up tall and white across the street.

“To sit on the common with the church in the background is the most centering thing,” said a drummer, who declined to give his name.

“We're all vibrational,” Cook said. “Music is in our DNA. It works out stress. It connects us with each other. It connects us with the earth, the universe, the heartbeat of God, if he has a heartbeat. It's a community-builder. It connects us to the heartbeat of our neighbor.”

This is the second year of the Drumming on the Common program. Last year, the group met from June to September. It was discontinued when the weather turned cold. This year, the drum circle will meet on Tuesday nights for the remainder of July. Group size varies from week to week. Cook said they have had upwards of 30 people at a time, all drumming together.

“We welcome everyone to our church community, wherever they are on life's journey,” said Cook. “We also welcome everyone to the drum circle, a community in itself.”

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