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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

The Irresistible Rhythm of the Drumbeat

It is unlikely that the vast majority of individuals participating in drum circles are doing so to give their left and right brain hemispheres a super-synchronizing workout or to strengthen their intuition and become smarter. It’s more likely that people enjoy drum circles because drumming is fun and the physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain, as well as the sound of drumbeats, not only induces a natural “high” by increasing alpha brain waves, but also generates new neuronal connections in all parts of the brain.

Although a plenitude of research evidence demonstrates that when the logical left hemisphere and the intuitive right hemisphere of the brain begin to pulsate together, an individual’s intuitive system becomes stronger, people are generally inclined to participate in drum circles for pure enjoyment, reducing stress and the chance to meet and make new friends. 

Community drumming for connecting and fun

When asked why he participates in local drum circles, the words that roll off Marc Wagner’s tongue are building community, connecting and having fun. “A drumming community is warm-hearted and welcoming to everyone. Wherever we have a drum circle, we attract a larger community of spectators and dancers, who like to join our fun. I’ve made a lot of really great friends through drumming and music. The good news is that no musical abilities are necessary, and non-musical newbies are often surprised at how quickly they pick up the beat,” says the Naples resident who has been a participant in drum circles for 10 years and has played host intermittently to the Bonita and Naples drum circles. 

SWFL Community Drum Circle at Cambier Park meets monthly from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Bandshell, 755 8th Ave. S., in Naples. Drummers and spectators are welcome to attend for community drumming, dancing, hula-hooping and self-expression. Check for schedule updates

Fort Myers Drum Circle meets on Sun. from 6:30 to 9 p.m. under the pavilion, by the water in Centennial Park, 2000 W. First St., in Fort Myers. On Oct. 20 there will be a celebration for 10-years of steady drumming together. For more information check or email [email protected]


Fort Myers resident Stephanie Niles recognizes how much drumming adds a balancing effect to her professional life assisting a local financial advisor. “If I could, I’d drum all day,” says Niles, who hosts the Shiva Yoga Shala Drum Circle at Shiva Shala Yoga, in Fort Myers, as well as the drum circle at Happehatchee Center, in Estero. 

Drumming as therapy and emotional release

Niles, who has been drumming for a year, became interested in music, initially playing the flute and later the guitar. I’ve always wanted to sing, but I don’t have the voice for it. I joined the Naples Kirtan group, where people are more interested in the collective vibration of voices and energy generated than in good singing voices,” advises Niles, who processes her feelings and thoughts through drumming. It’s more like therapy and a means of emotional relief. Drumming has become my passion, and I so appreciate the connections and friends that I’ve made through it.” 


Niles also drums alone at home. “I enjoy sitting drumming whatever comes out of me. Drumming at home is closely related to my needs and mood. Occasionally, I incorporate tapes to learn techniques that help me progress with my drumming ability.,” she says 

Shiva Yoga Shala Drum Circle meets indoors the second Sat. of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. at Shiva Yoga Shala, 1901 Brantley Rd., Ste. 3, in Fort Myers. Enjoy the sounds of drums, flutes, and hardpans. BYO instrument; a few are available to share. Chairs are provided. Love donation. For more information call 239-272-6683.

Happehatchee Drum Circle meets the first Sat. of each month from 4 to 6 p.m. at 8791 Corkscrew Rd., in Estero. Join in the heart of nature and drum to the rhythm of the sacred grounds. Bring drums, shakers, open heart and dance. Some drums and chairs are provided; families welcome. $10/donation. For more information, contact Stephanie Niles at [email protected] 

Communication and personal expression

As the founder of Creative Connection in Naples, Geva Salerno facilitates private and public drumming events. “Our mission is to help people connect to themselves and their community through creative arts wellness. We facilitate HealthRHYTHMS, a public drum circle with Ken Straub, certified music therapist.”

HealthRHYTHMS, a nationally recognized group empowerment program for health and wellness, was developed by the Remo Drum Company. It’s a fun, evidence-based, whole person strategy for promoting socialization and ensuring a healthy non-strenuous workout. On a deeper level, it builds bridges while fostering nurturing, support, camaraderie, self-respect and respect for others. 

Ultimately, the 10-steps of HealthRHYTHMS through which participants are led by Straub, are for facilitating communication and personal expression. According to Salerno, research has demonstrated that drumming can boost immune cell activity, as well as reduce in stress and burnout rates. Results also include improvement in mood states, enhanced creativity, bonding and more.

From his occasional visits to observe the Naples and Fort Myers drum circles, Straub describes the differences between HealthRHYTHMS and community drum circles. “Most participants bring their own instruments to community drum circles. There may be some instruments there, but there is no guarantee. Another difference is that in community drumming, someone starts playing and then everyone plays together. They move through certain phases and then end. Participants might laugh and talk about their experience, and then the next person presents a new rhythm. There is movement and dancing. Within this realm, anything goes. It can be a fantastic and powerful experience. The energy is amazing,” he enthuses.

“For HealthRHYTHMS, I supply all the instruments and use their program for an hour. Participants create, while I facilitate,” advises Straub, who began drumming on pots and pans at the age of 2. “I played in band from grade four through to graduation. In the early 80s, I performed professionally in the New York/New Jersey metro region. After that, I got a degree in music therapy at Montclair University. Due to the high standards for music therapists, I must re-certify every five years. 

An active practitioner in the field of music therapy for 20 years, Straub has his own company, UniBeat Music, LLC, which offers music therapy services, music education and professional performances. 

HealthRhythms Drum Circle takes place every third Wed. of the month from 6 to 7 p.m. at Shangri-La Springs Resort, located at 27750 Old 41 Rd., in Bonita Springs. Classes are also offered at Creative Connection, 1084 Business Ln., in Bonita Springs. $15 per session paid at the door. For more information, call 973-568-1470 or email [email protected] 

Inclusivity and diversity

Naples resident George Benjamin, who has been drumming for enjoyment for 10 years, not only hosts the Social Inclusion Drum Circle at House of Gaia, but also enjoys participating in the Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Naples drum circles. The House of Gaia drum circle began as a class for developmentally challenged individuals. Eventually, it opened up to all beginning drummers. “I’ve noticed that when individuals living within the autism spectrum focus, they can be very good drummers. Individuals living with Down syndrome are such a ray of sunshine in class. They love drumming, says Benjamin who has also hosted drum circles in retirement communities and in drug rehabilitation facilities for Geva Salerno’s Creative Connection. 

House of Gaia Social Inclusion Drum Circle meets on Mon. from 6 to 6:30 p.m. at House of Gaia, located at 1660 Trade Center Way, Ste. 1, in Naples. Love donation suggested. For more information, call 239-272-6152.

Stress release

Sara Peterson, who handles the Facebook promotion and community outreach for the SWFL Community Drum Circle, has been drumming since the group formed in 2009. “Although we’ve taken hiatuses now and then and the number of participants wax and wane, I attempt to keep the circle going with a few other core drummers. I’m trying to generate excitement and encourage some of our veteran drummers to rejoin us. I enjoy the drum circle because it provides an outlet of expression and stress release through drum therapy, dance therapy, and the opportunity to find my identity separate from all the roles I play as a stay-at-home-working mom,” explains Peterson. 

Exploring the inner self and expanding consciousness

A drummer’s attention has to stay in the present, where it is literally impossible to get caught up in the past or worry about the future. The equivalent of wordless talk therapy, drum circles provide a means of exploring the inner self and expanding consciousness while being part of a community; two perfectly good reasons why so many people are drawn to it.

by Linda Sechrist
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