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Special Needs Music Workshops

Every special needs music workshop is a unique experience and there is no off-the-shelf method. Here are some general observations and 2 evaluation reports.
Please contact me for detailed information and to discuss the concrete possibilities

Drumming workshops at Co-Action Bantry, facilitated by Thomas Wiegandt
Drumming workshops at Co-Action Bantry, facilitated by Thomas Wiegandt

Drumming group process and progress.
General experiences:

Drumming is a musical team effort. Individuals, including those in marginal situations, can be often very much focused on their own actions and quite unaware of what is going on for others in a group. In a drumming circle everybody can hear the degree of co-operation by listening to the music produced. It will either sound together and structured or chaotic and disconnected. The participants are listening out for a rhythmic structure or a group “groove” that is created by them. They recognize the “groove” with excitement when it comes about and enjoy being united through rhythm in a group.

During the drumming session the participants develop the ability to relate and interact with each other in a playful way. The natural and spontaneous musicality is also uncovered which is inside of each human being and which is a primal expression of joy and happiness, often being shut down by upbringing and education. Children are often conditioned from early age to be quiet and not to utter any sounds or to act musically outside a set conventional musical frame work(“Why do you always sing out of tune?”,” Stop drumming on the table”, Don’t make these silly noises”, etc.)

Drumming today is therapeutically used as a means of self expression to empower people to play music and use their voices in a complex and free way as well as to encourage appropriate spontaneous musical actions within a group situation. Each individual in a drumming group acts in an expressive way as a part of the community and contributes what they have to offer according to their individual ability and skill.

Progress in a group is determined by each individual’s ability to open up, relate, and interact in the group as well as getting in touch with the own musicality as a fundamental form of personal self-expression. The concrete progress in any group will always depend on the team effort, the individual participation, and the appropriate interaction of the group members. This again will depend on the individuals momentary state, condition and form.

Drumming as a team effort works mainly on a feeling level which makes it an ideal tool to work with people of all ages, backgrounds, and conditions. People learn drumming in a playful hands-on way and progress fast without being intellectually aware or stressed about the process of learning on a personal, social and musical level. Through drumming people relax and move on at all levels. This progress and developement deepens the more often people play together in a drum circle as they get more comfortable and familiar with the situation. Having a safe space to express personal emotions in a group through drumming in a playful and non-violent way is an empowering group experience and simply a lot of fun, which is essential for any personal developement.

Drumming workshops for Rehab at Bantry, facilitated by Thomas Wiegandt
Drumming workshops for Rehab at Bantry, facilitated by Thomas Wiegandt

Rehab Care in Bantry, summer 2003: Experience and projection

All the above has been proven at Rehab Care in Bantry once again. The group is progressing socially and musically very well, everybody participates and enjoys the drumming circle, 3 or 4 show a real talent for drumming. My projection for the groups is that the progress will continue as well as the personal and social awareness will rise to a higher level. Carrying on with the drumming circle is definitely recommended.

Evaluation Report 2/12/04
Drumming workshops at Co-Action Bantry, facilitated by Thomas Wiegandt

I have run a series of drumming workshops with a group of around eight clients on average. The clients I worked with have wide spectrum of various disabilities.
I worked on learning to feel a musical pulse or a beat and play it on the provided drums and percussion instruments, progressing then into rhythmic patterns and poly-rhythms.
The clients participated very well and achieved the given tasks in a joyful and playful way. They particularly enjoyed singing African inspired call and response songs, giving the workshops a community feel. They also danced to the music they created.
The workshops have been very successful not only in the sense of musical education but as well that the clients could express their emotions in a playful way.
I think it would be good to continue with the drumming workshops, as they are very beneficial as well for a positive social interaction.

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