A Sense of Community through Drumming

[The current posts are written by students in Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts.  Partnering with U-M Geriatric Centers, Mild Memory Loss, Silver Club Programs, students have been paired with community members to create together.]

After taking Retaining Identity last year, I knew immediately that I wanted to repeat the experience while working with the Wisdom Keepers. I came into class with a general sense of how to work with older adults with memory loss, but I can’t even begin to expand upon how many different ways of working with this population I learned this semester.

As a shy and awkward person, I expected the interactions with the members and the students, particularly my own interaction, to be very hesitant and wary. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised with the strength through which all the members and students responded to one another especially in our first group drumming activity. Four of us were randomly called upon to sit in the center and somehow create a rhythm together.

And create we did.

It astounded me how much the members and students responded to each other when creating such beats. Even those who weren’t drumming in the center were extremely enraptured by the beat filling the room. Some were even clapping along with the beat. Never before had I felt such an exhilaration and sense of community by watching people drum together. It is almost as if the music was speaking to all of us, encouraging us to work together in the present and in the future.

After working with the community members for another semester, I feel the introduction of activities that are not just focused on the fine arts really helped the members and students connect. I for one will never underestimate the power of music again. Whether it be through drumming, painting, singing, or dancing, I hope to continue these interactions with the members as working with them has been an extremely fulfilling experience.

~ Aditi Gang, Junior, Art & Design and Psychology student

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