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Wonder drum that welds teams into units of harmony

Meghana Choukkar, July 09, 2016, Bengaluru, DHNS 2:34 IST

Djembe calling

BONDING BEATS A drum circle like this is often organised  by corporates to bring about synergy during leadership trainings and team-building exercises. The Indian cricket team unwound its preparatory camp for the West Indies tour, in Bengaluru recently, with a similar drum circle. DH File photo.
A video of the Indian cricket team unwinding with a drum circle at its preparatory camp in Bengaluru recently has gone viral on the web. While it is being tagged as a ‘unique’ initiative by the captain of the team, the use of the Djembe in such drum circles is not new to the city.

Djembe, a West African percussion instrument, is commonly used by corporates in leadership training and team-building exercises. Traditionally used to gather people in villages, the goblet-shaped instrument is preferred for such activities as it is easy to learn and can produce a variety of sounds.

“A drum circle can engage groups of 10 to 2,500 people. There is a facilitator who introduces the instrument to the participants before playing high-energy rhythms,” said Rupert Picardo, co-founder of Dfrens, which introduced the concept to Bengaluru in 2005.

The sound of the drums playing together is energising and it requires the participants to work together towards a common objective, creating harmony in the team, which is the first step to team-building, according to him.

In a variation of the activity called ‘carving,’ smaller groups are created. One group plays the base and the others add layers to it with other sounds, following the same tempo.

Explaining the intention of this exercise, Picardo said, “The message we give is that by following the organisational culture, which is the beat, each department or group can create its own identity. Working this way will produce a beautiful chorus and as a whole, the organisation can achieve success.”

Ashok Kumar, a theatre artiste and djembe player, said, “In a drum circle, you need to actively listen to each other. It also helps people figure out if they are better leaders or followers.” He is passionate about the ancient instrument for the deep, earthy sound it produces.

“The tabla is intimidating and it requires a lot of training, unlike the djembe, which is simple. The djembe does not require tuning,” Kumar said. He also uses it to teach aspects of philosophy and to help people connect to the rhythm inside them. Vijay Simha, the HR head of an engineering company, organised one such drum circle with Ashok for the employees of the company. He said, “I could see that there was a new understanding and sense of oneness among them. Such exercises help bring the senior management in companies with the lower-level employees and improve their productivity.”

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