Beats the Blues -- Symphony Orchestra Taps into Grief Therapy of Drum Circle Rhythm [Corrected 05/11/12]

By Wolff, Cindy | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), May 8, 2012 | Go to article overview

Beats the Blues -- Symphony Orchestra Taps into Grief Therapy of Drum Circle Rhythm [Corrected 05/11/12]


Wolff, Cindy, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)


Seven children sat in a circle of chairs and fished a plastic lemon from under their seats to shake while eyeing the prize within their reach.

They obediently shook their lemons until they were instructed to put it down and put their hands on what they were eager to touch. Drums.

For an hour, they forgot they were at a grief counseling center, each battling his or her own sorrow. It was the first time a drum circle was formed at the Kemmons Family Center for Good Grief in Collierville.

Through grants and a program called HealthyRHYTHMS, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra provides drum circles for several organizations including Youth Villages, said Frank Shaffer, a percussionist for the orchestra and an associate professor of percussion at the University of Memphis.

"They can say something on a drum that's too painful to say in words," Shaffer said.

They went around the circle creating a sound for their name, their favorite color, a good memory.

Before they began drumming, 12-year-old Lauren Garrison talked about the time her brother Steven hugged the Winnie the Pooh cake at his 2nd birthday party. He squished the cake to pieces, she said as she shook her head at her brother, who is 7 years old.

Their mother Kim died suddenly in 2010 after a strep throat infection turned septic, said David, the children's father. …

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