Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Drumming focuses the mind, opens the heart

I'm new in town. The only time I venture out is for work, and then I sit in the back, figure out who everyone is and scribble in my water-stained, crumpled notebook.

This was my plan, anyway, when I arrived at a drum circle event last Friday at the J. Ben Harrill Recreation Complex in Holiday. Sallyeanne Dalton, the class instructor, did not like this plan.

After receiving a greeting hug from Dalton, I found myself in a metal folding chair with a drum, about 2 feet tall and covered in beads and knotted thread, between my thighs. I had to hold the drum slightly off the ground for it to make noise.

The sounds my hands made striking different parts of the skin at the top of the drum — a tap to the middle made a bass note, while a tap at the edge was a higher tone — echoed through the bottom of the drum, and the patter was released though an opening in the bottom. Hence the need to constantly hold the thing up. Dalton called it "the African ThighMaster."

The drum circle drew a handful of people, with a couple leaving halfway through. There are usually more, Dalton said, but others had been scared away by rain earlier that day.

They were in a small room tucked into a corner of the rec center that could be described only as stark. The walls were white painted bricks, and the pale linoleum floor was scuffed. Two sets of windows stretched from ceiling to floor, letting in a little light, but the day was cloudy.

Dalton did what she could. She laid out a small, rectangular rug on which to set drums of different sizes. She tied tapestries in deep jewel tones to the walls. Once people filtered in and began to play, the room was so filled with thunder and laughter that it didn't seem quite so dour.

Dalton walked us through different beats, sitting next to whoever needed help. She left me after a little while, saying, "You're a natural!"

We progressed from beats to songs, and Dalton used different drums and occasionally a flute to accompany us. After a while, I didn't hear discordant thumps. I heard music.

Dalton taught us different ways to memorize beat patterns. Using sentences, for example, helps her. She used "put beans on it," with the first two words said quickly and the last two slowly, to illustrate. It did help, and as I struck the drum I muttered under my breath, "put beans on it" over and over.

The words kept me focused, and that's one element of drumming I learned very quickly: You can't let your mind wander in random directions and expect to sound decent. Drumming marked the first time in a long time that I had had to focus on only one activity. I didn't have time to take notes, look at my phone, open my planner. And I liked that.

Between songs, though, I found myself wondering about Dalton —why she loves drumming, how she started. As she walked around the room, she told us about a motorcycle accident she had 10 years ago. She was on a cross-country trip in Onawa, Iowa, when her bike wobbled, throwing her to the pavement. Ever since, she hasn't been able to bend her left wrist, yet she remains a drummer.

"When it's your passion, you find a way," she said with a smile.

There was an overwhelming sense of belonging in that grim room in Holiday. People hugged you, learned your name. They taught you an art they treasured dearly. They praised your progress. They asked with genuine feeling when they would see you again.

For two hours, I wasn't new in town. I wasn't there just for work. I wasn't hidden in the background, observing others enjoying themselves.

For two hours, I was a drummer.

Mary Kenney can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

Comments
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Aquarium reopens to divers

Aquarium reopens to divers

Florida Keys News BureauVisitors to Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters dive with among indigenous Keys fish Friday in Marathon. The attraction reopened Friday after closing just before Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys on Sept. 10. Although tourism f...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida moves to control booming, invasive iguanas

Florida moves to control booming, invasive iguanas

MIAMI — With burrowing iguanas showing up in people’s toilets and damaging expensive sewer lines, Florida wildlife managers are stepping up efforts to control the state’s booming population of the wild, invasive reptiles. The Florida Fish and Wildlif...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Fan helps fund Miami Stadium’s historic marker

MIAMI — For thousands of kids who grew up in Miami, going to the old Miami Stadium in the Allapattah neighborhood was a part of coming of age. Opened on Aug. 31, 1949, with a game between the Miami Sun Sox and Havana Cubans, two Class B Florida Inter...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida man sues for $2.8 million fishing tournament prize money

Florida man sues for $2.8 million fishing tournament prize money

OCEAN CITY, Md. — Phil Heasley of Naples caught the fish of his life, but the $2.8 million in tournament prize money got away. Heasley reeled in a 6-foot white marlin last year off Maryland’s coast. But in a sign of how concerned some big money tour...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Two die in head-on crash on Gunn Highway in Odessa

ODESSA — Hillsborough County deputies are investigating a head-on crash on Gunn Highway that killed two and sent a child to the hospital Saturday afternoon.About 12: 45 p.m., Terry Lee Bronschidle, 70, of Tampa was driving his Chevy Traverse south on...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

DENVER — There might be one team in hockey hotter than the Lightning.It is Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, Syracuse.The Crunch has won 10 straight after Friday’s victory over Providence. Why is this important? While the AHL is a developmental league, the ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Firefighters injured after early-morning blaze at Tampa strip mall

Firefighters injured after early-morning blaze at Tampa strip mall

TAMPA — Three firefighters were injured early Saturday morning while battling a fire at a strip mall on W Waters Avenue, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.Firefighters said the blaze started around 2:45 p.m. in the attic of L.A. Nail Supply, located at ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There were a lot of reasons the Rays didn’t start the process of trading some of their bigger-name, higher-paid players at last week’s winter meetings.Most obvious was them not finding the just-right deal to move closer Alex Colome...
Updated: 5 hours ago