Importance of Play

It took me some time to first, find the classes I wanted, and second, to build up enough courage to register. A big brew of excuses with only a few valid reasons sprinkled on top caused the embarrassing amount of time between the two.

Yet the djembe drum had been calling me for years. I’d see an extra playing one in the background of a movie scene. A random drumming video, then more, would pop up in my social media feed. A song would come on the radio where I’d hear the djembe holding a steady rhythm.

I could no longer ignore it and I didn’t want to.

I considered my options. Talked myself out of my options, and finally compared group classes to private lessons. I thought privates might be a better fit for my natural loner tendencies, but to my surprise, I was drawn to practicing with others.

The one and only time that I had tried drumming (years before) the instructor had said that everyone has rhythm. When most of us in the class loudly objected he reminded us that we are born with it, and we call it a heartbeat.

Ah. It felt like a trick question.

We all know how important it is for our heart to keep beating, but have you ever had an opportunity to feel your heartbeat up against that of your loving partner, your child, a dear friend?

It’s magical.

And you want it to last for as long as possible. Drumming with a group seemed like a no brainer after that realization.

But I couldn’t just sit behind the drum looking pretty. Well, I could, and I do, but nothing magical would happen if that was all I did. So I connected my hand to the skin of the djembe, over and over and over again.

I kept the beat.

I messed up the beat.

I’d get in a hypnotic trance when everyone in the group was matching their neighbour in tempo.

I’d laugh out loud when my left hand insisted on doing its own thing and being a rebel.

I invited the vibrations I felt through the floor, up into the rest of my body.

I’d imagine our heartbeats connecting to the beat we now gave to our drums.

I asked for help. I experimented with new sounds. Sometimes they worked out well.

Other times I did a splendid job of totally wrecking it.

The most important thing I learned from drumming is that if I think too much about what I’m doing, it doesn’t feel or sound right. Something is missing.

I love it even more (and just happen to improve) when I tell my over-analytical self to take a break and let the curious, and excited part of myself come out to play.

It’s been a great reminder to do more of this in other areas of my life as well.

Olwen Wilson