What is a drum circle facilitator?

What a drum circle facilitator does.

The  Whale Spirit Drum circle is a loosely facilitated community drum circle. Our facilitators use a light hand in giving direction to the circle. Don’t think of it like an orchestra conductor. Think of it as a coach gently making suggestions. The facilitator might signal for everyone to stop. Or everyone pick up the pace of the drum beat. Or everyone start. Or everyone play softer. But to be one of the cool kids, you should know the hand signals.

DON’T FRET THIS – Ok, I know, thoughts of performance anxiety from 7th grade. But it is not like that. First, once you are in the room you will figure this out. Just do what the person next to you is doing. Second, even if everything falls apart, it is no big deal. So you start a little late, or don’t stop exactly on time, it is not a problem. Starting and stopping a drum circle is kind of like starting and stopping an ocean liner. It is more of a process than an event.

The hand signals.

First comes a signal to pay attention. (The facilitator walks to the center of the circle and raises their hand.)

 Next is a signal for what you are expected to do in a few moments from now. (For example a closed fist means that you will be asked to stop drumming in a few moments from now.)

Then then comes a countdown by the facilitator. (The facilitator will raise three fingers, then two fingers, then one finger. Then on the final signal you act.)

The last signal is the same as the first, only now is the time to act!  (So after the 3,2,1 countdown, the facilitator will make two fists in a quick action to signal that now is the time to stop.) 

It helps if you know the following hand signals.

Hand in the air – Pay attention. Something is about to happen that requires your attention.

Closed fist – dead stop.

Rolling motion of hands – time to start

Both hands in the air  raised or lowered – go louder if rising, go softer if lowering.

The facilitator moving their arm to a faster of slower rhythm – speed up or slow down to the rhythm of the facilitator’s movements.

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