Drum Jam has its own beat, rhythm

August 02, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- It was an auditory trip around the world Sunday night when the rhythms of the Middle East, Ireland, Africa and Native America juxtaposed themselves.

Bonnie McChesney guided the sounds for the drum circle she's hosted monthly for almost a year and a half. Drum Jam was designed to appeal to both the musically talented and rhythmically challenged.

"You play what you can and what you want. ... Anyone is welcome to come and just enjoy the energy of the group, even if you don't want to play," McChesney said.

Drum Jam differs from many drum circles, McChesney said, because it incorporates other instruments if participants bring them. Flutes, bagpipes and didgeridoos were featured on Sunday.


Belly dancers moved around a pile of percussion instruments placed in the middle of the circle for everyone's use. One man performed a traditional singing style from the country of Tuva.

Gerti Hudson of Scotland, Pa., brought her 11-year-old grandson, Alec Hudson, to the drum circle for the first time.

"It somehow brings you alive," she said.

"I just like getting lost in it," said Keith Martz, of Chambersburg.

Liliana Crawford, of Chambersburg, said she participates because of the energy.

McChesney said some researchers have found medical benefits from drumming because it works with the body's natural rhythm created by the heart.

Sunday's event was the best attended for the Drum Jam held at Ragged Edge Wellness Center, a yoga and massage therapy center off U.S. 30. About 30 people formed the circle.

"We started out with four or five people" in April 2008, McChesney said.

Some attendees Sunday drove from as far as Harrisburg and Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and Falling Waters in West Virginia, she said.

"Most of the people are using it as a stress reliever," McChesney said. "They enjoy it."

Drum Jam starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month. There is no cost to participate, although donations are accepted to offset the cost of using the facility.

Some drums are available for people who do not have them.

For more information, call McChesney at 717-263-0597 or e-mail

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