Spiritual Drumming Connects Body, Mind and Soul

Richard Reiter leads Spiritual Drumming through various drumming sessions, allowing attendees to experiment with different techniques and sounds.

Spiritual Drumming transports you into a world of rhythm, timbre and sound.

spiritual drumming
Photo by Emma Gallof for The Montclair Dispatch

If you’ve ever wanted a place to go where you can let go of everything going on in your world for just a few hours, and get to do a fun activity with a great group of people, spiritual drumming is for you. Led by esteemed jazz musician, Richard Reiter, you can learn new techniques about drumming and about different types of drums, all while being surrounded by others that share your interest.

Spiritual drumming is open to experienced drummers as well as beginners, with Reiter constantly encouraging the group. “One of the most important things to remember is to find the pulse and stay with it,” said Reiter. “Not being able to do fancy beats and rhythms. One first time attendee even told the group, ‘I’m a father of a drummer, and he didn’t get it from me!’”

One thing I learned towards the beginning of Spiritual Drumming was that a djun drum is a popular West African drum played with a stick rather than someone’s hands, and about the sounds a djembe drum, which can make a tight popping sound towards the edges, and a deeper bass sound as you progress into the middle of the drum.

After a brief discussion about the types of drums and techniques, Reiter began a beat and everyone happily joined in. Drumming often started without warning as a member of the group started experimenting with a beat and as they continued people would find the pulse and join in as well. The constant drumming led to people trying out new sounds and instruments, frequently slowing and quickening the pace of the beats, causing others to add in their own beats. As the beats progressed, people often stood up and danced around, letting the music lead their bodies. The drumming was done by using a mix of hands as well as sticks, and sometimes even experimenting with other body parts such as knees and even foreheads!

After each session of drumming, the group would stop on Reiter’s call, and he would touch upon things he noticed that he liked or share something helpful with the group. Reiter shared that he initially learned drumming in Senegal, and that they were much more advanced and very difficult to perform and follow. “The drumming we do is all about rhythm and having fun,” he explained before jumping into the next session.

Throughout Spiritual Drumming, everyone was extremely friendly and encouraging. In between riffs, people would often share ideas and comments, as well as just converse with each other, wanting to learn more about their own lives and how they got into drumming. More experienced drummers came with multiple drums and instruments constantly switching between them as tempos and beats changed, while less experienced drummers experimented with their sound while staying with a set drum.

It was interesting to see how they were using the same drums I played around with in my elementary school music class, but instead of just playing around or banging on it, they used it to create magnificent works of music, ranging in a constantly changing tempo and pitch. Leader Reitter even told the group that a better drum doesn’t always make a better of sound, but that it was more of a mix of the technique and the drum that creates a work of music, as he often used the cart that transported the drums as another outlet of sound.

“The era of social media is slowly separating people,” said Reiter, “but this is still bring them together and connecting them. That’s the cool thing.”

If you are interested in attending the next Spiritual Drumming session or just want to know more, you can go to outpostintheburbs.org/involve for more information.

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