One of the most powerful elements ever to be invented is music. The sounds of Leimert Park Drum Circles resonate so deeply and have little known benefits and often overlooked ways in which it is used to heal; physically, mentally, and emotionally to name a few. Medical ecosystems are beginning to study and determine the healing effects of what African people have been practicing for millennia.
By LaMar Anderson | March 4, 2021 | 6:00am
Leimert Parks has innumerable gems. One definitely being its ‘Drum Circles’. Full of life, positive vibes, music, call-and-response, giving praise in song and dance. Each one-teach one is often seen as the master drummers teach beginning-intermediate students. Or seasoned musicians sitting in to join and give strength to the experience of the session.
For over a generation, Leimert Park Village has cultivated a community of world-famous talent from writers to musicians. It remains a vanguard for musicianship, stewardship, and African cultural experiences in Los Angeles. Whether inside storied music institutions such as The World Stage or outside in open-air spaces on Degnan Boulevard and 43rd Place throughout the week to weekend.
To many African people worldwide, the sentiment or fact music is one of the best medicines is not new. Sound and music as a therapy model have been recognized for nearly a century in medical ecosystems. In a peer-reviewed study, published March 2016 by Fancort, Perkins, Ascenso et al. titled Effects of Group Drumming Interventions on Anxiety, Depression, Social Resilience and Inflammatory Immune Response among Mental Health Service Users, drum circles were studied as the method/contributing factor to the healing of their experimental group.
Participants were given a Djembe drum and joined a drum circle class for 90 minutes taught by a professional drummer. Over the course of 10 weeks, the experimental group received basic instructions on how to use the drum and led in ‘call-and-response’ exercises, learned rhythmic patterns for large group pieces and improvisational drumming. While the guidance of the professional teacher was merely to show and guide rather than adhere to strict standards in a classical sense.
The experimental group of participants was studied via self-response surveys of psychological and biological measures. Statistical analyses produced the study’s results, which demonstrated that group drumming could reduce depression and anxiety and improve social resilience in mental health service users over six and 10-week spans.
Many of the people in Leimert Park Villages attendance at any given music workshop or drumming class have never known, let alone been told about a study such as this or the specific benefits to their well-being. What is known and remains a constant is that African people worldwide have always been in tune with the power and majesty of sound, frequency, vibrations, chakras, etc. You name it; we feel it. It must be stated again and again that African people have always been and remain spiritual people tapped into the great I AM, The OM, The All, All Law, Allah, God, Source, The Most High, Divine Superconscious; you get my point. Tapping into this cosmic connection is expressed via drumming, call and response, and dance, to name a few.
In the year following the 2016 study by Fancort, Perkins, Ascenso, et al. A news release by The World Health Organization in March 2017 reports, “Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide”. With historic world experiences of 2020 and as of this writing in 2021, one knows or recognizes the absolute need to maintain great physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. I do not think it an exaggeration or stretch of the imagination to consider the purveyors of all things musical; drummers, dancers, musicians, vocalists as essential workers. We know their contributions to the health and well-being to the community’s benefit are vital, absolute, and, as determined in the 2016 study, reduce depression, anxiety and improve social resilience in mental health services.
Next time you visit Leimert Park and hear and see a drum circle, take in the experience. It is with certainty, and beyond all doubt, to know that there is a healing session going on. Perhaps you’re just in time for a bit of a vibratory tune-up by simply tuning in and letting the sounds wash over you like a cool summer breeze at the very least.
So be sure to support drum circle efforts in some way, shape, or form. Leimert Park Village multifaceted gem and remains the cultural hub of people of African Heritage worldwide. Many cultures and ethnicities intersecting in this historic and uniquely situated community in Los Angeles. It is many things to many people, chief among them, and specifically, in regards to drum circles, it is a place and space for the healing of the mind, body, and spirit.
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