More and more people finding the rhythm through drumming

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Drumming is a language, according to Lesley Joosten, leader of the Creemore Drumming Collective, and her mission is to make it accessible, even to people who feel they are not at all musical.

Joosten is a classically trained musician and a member of the Georgian Triangle Music Teachers Association. To anyone who says they have no rhythm, she says, “Our hearts beat in rhythm every day.”

Joosten has developed an approach which she calls “speak the beat” to teach basic rhythms from a variety of music styles including Soca, Calypso and Reggae by pairing musical phrases with easily remembered word cues like “Ting, tang, wallah wallah bing bang” and “Yabba Dabba Do.”

On a typical Tuesday afternoon, 12-15 people gather at Station on The Green in Creemore for an hour of drumming, fun and fellowship. Group member Ayrlie MacEachern describes the experience as incredibly grounding and rooted in togetherness.

Joosten says drumming is all about making people feel good about themselves. She believes each of us has inner music and her approach to teaching is about developing the ability to feel and express it. In the course of that self-expression, members learn traditional rhythms. The mood at the Tuesday Drumming Collective is open, fluid and playful.

The Thursday morning West African Drumming group, Warped, also meets at Station on the Green, but here the focus is on structured pieces and their cultural significance.

The group, led by Janet Hayward, recently learned the Moribayassa, a rhythm played to aid a woman in overcoming a huge obstacle such as childlessness. A woman can invoke the Moribayassa only once in her lifetime and celebrate the ritual with her whole village. The ceremony begins with the woman clad in rags, symbolizing the past, which are then buried at the base of the Moribayassa tree, after which she returns dressed in new clothes to celebrate a fresh start.

Hayward is an English teacher, and loves the story telling element of West African Drumming. She became smitten 20-plus years ago when she attended a stained glass course at the Haliburton School of the Arts.

“I discovered I had a limited aptitude for stained glass, but I was bewitched by the drumming class a few doors down,” said Hayward.

She describes her drumming experience as nothing short of life changing. She says it provides different things to different people, with the common thread being that it offers a friendly, happy, supportive environment.

Hayward says the number of drumming groups cropping up is unbelievable. She is aware of more than a dozen groups within an hour of Creemore, including groups in Stayner and Wasaga Beach. There are several members who belong to both of the Creemore groups, and at least one who also practises with Wasaga Beach.

People of all ability levels, male and female are welcome to join. Devoted drummers can spend anywhere from $100 to $500 or more for their own djembe, the traditional African drum, but rentals are available for anyone who wants to try it out withoutmaking that kind of commitment.

For information on the Creemore Drumming Collective, email For information about Warped West African Drumming email

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