Drum Making


During my first year of Shamanic Training (2014) with Jayne Johnson (Shamanism Embodied) I went to Dartmoor to make a drum with Carolyn Hillyer. My embodied sense of connection with rhythm and pulse was surfacing again and becoming compelling as our group drummed in a circle and outside round a fire, through our laughter, preparing food together, making connections within ourselves and community together and with the land, held in the earth.

Rhythm and sound and listening to people…

During my psychotherapy practice in Sheffield and while studying on the MSc Psychotherapy course I was working on an assignment which was to transcribe a 10 minute period of a recorded therapy session with a client. My task was then to write about the process between us. What I found was that even though I was writing the words down for the transcription, that was not really very helpful for my task, for even though the words were part of what I was listening to, it was the pace, the rhythm, pulse, the ebb and flow, tones and timbres, the qualities and energies between us that were profoundly significant. Later on, I discovered the term ‘communicative musicality’ in a book edited by Stephen Malloch and Colwyn Trevarthen- the full title is Communicative Musicality-Exploring the basis of human companionship. I find this a fascinating book with many contributions from researchers in the field of infant development and the neuroscience of emotion. I quote from chapter one titled ‘Musicality: Communicating the vitality and interests of life’…..”Through…’collaborative musicing’ people can move to awareness of their intrinsic interconnectedness.” Drums, heartbeat, earth beat, rhythm of the seasons, pulse of the earth, pulse of or bodies, rising and setting of the sun, waxing and waning of the moon, breath in,…and out…..in…and out…beat of life.

Making drums.

I found making my first drum a very moving experience. First working with the ‘bones of the drum’ the wood hoop, connecting with the tree, the earth, the hoop gives structure and form to the drum. Making markings on the inside of the hoop, breathing spirit and intention, allowing images to emerge, trusting the images, flowing with mind body spirit and in connection with tree and animal. Working with the skin of the deer, feeling the aliveness in the skin, honouring the animal and working with an intention for the drum created an awakening which is staying with me.  When I returned with my drum I already had a sense that I wanted to make drums with people, or rather to facilitate people to make their own drums.

(To clarify, no animal was killed for it’s skin. The skins were received from a local farmer and from a semi wild herd and the deer skin would have otherwise been discarded. The deer skins were prepared by Carolyn with honouring and ritual.)

At the moment I am sourcing hoops and deer skins from Phil Cowley Jones who prepares deer skins in the traditional way and with honour and ceremony. Please see Shamanic Drum Making Supplies UK for more details.

I offer a two day facilitated process which is worked out and unfolded carefully together as we go along and with sensitivity to your needs and wishes in the process.

Therapeutic process and drum making…

Sometimes, making a drum is referred to as ‘drum birthing’. I can relate to this way of seeing the process as well as recognising that the process of discovering your intention for your drum, working with the elements of your drum, possibly dreaming, journaling, drawing, feeling, allowing what is arising within you, and between you and the drum, carries rich possibilities for connection with your self, with others and with the wild and other than human. Making drums is part of my practice as a Wild Therapist and Shamanic Practitioner.

Through engaging with the deer skin and the tree from which your hoop is formed, we encounter death and life. Our dependence upon the earth for food and water and our interdependence within webs of living connection may be explored. Our relationship to our needs and wants and how we try to get what we need in the world. You may visit your previous experience with birthing and sustaining creative projects or birthing children and being a parent, being a mother, father, daughter or son. We work with your creative process with the drum and may notice and want to give space to anxiety or ambivalence, different feelings and experiences, places in yourself that you may welcome or find more difficult. Making a drum is a living process!  Each skin and each hoop is different and asks us to work afresh in relation to their particular forms and the questions they pose as we work with them. We encounter uncertainty and how we deal with the fact that we are not in control. You may find synchronicities supporting your connections.

A drum made in this way can become a companion on your journey through life, full of meaning, spirit and voice.

If making a drum and making space for yourself in the creative process appeals to you please do contact me and I would be very happy to talk to you further.

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