“Quiet Drumming Challenge” (excerpted from Making Music Magazine’s feature “In The Company Of Drums”
“Greiner has had his fair share of challenges when organizing circles. … the versatility of drums enables him to turn them into memorable teaching moments.
‘The restaurant chain Chipotle once asked me to do a team-building, motivational program for 160 managers,’ says Greiner. ‘The program took place in a ballroom above a hotel restaurant that was still serving lunch. The planner was concerned that we might disturb the restaurant patrons.’
So Greiner turned to a low-volume version of his drum program, using small drums and maracas. ‘I actually used the low volume as a way to show how the Chipotle managers could train staff to deal with fast-paced operations while maintaining an atmosphere of tranquility for their patrons.'”
An Upbeat Awards Ceremony (excerpted from Making Music Magazine’s feature “In The Company Of Drums)
“Tammy Weis, vice president of business development at CommuniCare, an Ohio-based assisted living management firm, brought in Greiner … to complement the celebratory and motivational mood of the company’s annual meeting and awards ceremony.
Greiner placed drums at the dinner tables so the staff could play them instead of clapping when the awards were handed out. ‘The staff loved it!’ exclaims Weis. ‘Jim then did a motivational drum circle, which was good after the awards ceremony, because some of the stories were quite poignant. He helped elevate the mood. People really let loose their inner drummers!'”
“Heartland Drumming” (I wrote a longer version of this story for the book, The Healing Power Of The Drum by Robert L. Friedman, published by White Cliffs Media in 2000):
In the mid-1990’s I was contracted to lead a community drumming program for a large city in the American “farm belt” as part of their annual civic festival. The organizer had heard about my work and wanted me to do my community building program to help them bring diverse elements of the population together. He was concerned that not many people would participate, since, in his words, “This is, after all ‘heartland America’ and may not be inclined to try new things”
Over 200 people joined in! The organizer, and the participants themselves, were amazed that so many actually drummed together in such harmony.
Later, someone sent me some photos of the event with a note that read, “Take a close look at the man with the John Deere cap on the edge of the crowd.
I found him, a strongly build man with sunburnt arms and face. In the first photo he was standing erect, but leaning slightly back from the drumming group, his arms folded across his chest and with a look on his face that clearly said, “What the heck are these people doing?” In the second photo he was leaning slightly forward with his hands on his hips and a slight smile playing across his face. In a later photo, there he was… leaning forward at the waist, clapping his hands, with a huge grin that seemed to come from deeply within his heart.
I think about this man often, and admire him for how he allowed himself to be moved by the drumming to participate in something that he probably never imagined he would ever do! He is an inspiration to me whenever I may be feeling stuck in a rut. The term “heartland America” also has a new and profound meaning to me!
Personal Growth Programs
“Muriel’s Bongo Surprise” (I wrote a longer version of this story for the book, The Healing Power Of The Drum by Robert L. Friedman, published by White Cliffs Media in 2000)
Muriel was 95 years old when I first met her and drummed with her. She was a resident at an assisted living community at which I did therapeutic drumming programs whenever I could.
She immediately took to the bongos, the small, paired Afro-Cuban drums. Over the course of several sessions she became quite the bongo player; able to hold simple parts and even weave her own improvisations into the group rhythms.
During breaks in the drumming, we would talk about ourselves and our lives and Muriel once said, as many other residents did, how she loved visits from her family, but did not like their pity and sadness for her.
One day, as I was bringing in the instruments before one of our sessions, I could see Muriel beaming brightly with something she obviously had been waiting to tell me.
“Jim”, she said, “my great grandchildren just asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and guess what I told them!?” I told them I wanted a pair of bongos… you should have seen the looks on their faces!”
The pixie in her reveled in the thought of her family’s reaction to this new, secret life of hers and that their usual looks of pity were changed to surprise and joy!
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