Get in the groove and connect through pulsation

Learning to collaborate, communicate and create together are valuable goals for a workplace group, yet it is an elusive quality. How can we make it happen?

For some of us connecting one-on-one or even within a group is very challenging. But I have another idea for a team-building retreat: Learn to drum together. Connection is easier when you are anchored within your body-mind and drumming does just that.

I’ve worked in communities, schools and corporations for more than 25 years. I consistently experience the transformation that happens in any group playing the drum together. When we are in this groove place, our personalities and our agendas fade into the background. The task at hand is to listen and respond. When we feel connected through pulsation, that’s easy.

And the connection with others remains — long after the drumming session is over. Here are some reasons why rhythm works;

  • Drumming and rhythm are neutral.  What does that mean? There is no judgment in how fast or slow that you learn. Taking our time to learn is a rare gift in our busy lives. Drumming is a non-linear process. It doesn’t happen in our minds alone. We have to relax and feel it. All of a sudden you find yourself connected to the pulse, the music and your fellow drummers. The ability to be fear-less helps all of us when we are learning some new skill.
  • Making mistakes is an important part of learning how to find our pulse (or our voice.) Although rhythm is a constant presence, we can’t always “find it.” Or we find it and then lose it again; forget where we are, or what we were doing. It’s natural. And it’s important to develop a healthy relationship with this kind of “falling out” of rhythm. The sooner we can, the faster we can return to the rhythm, or in the bigger picture, the project at hand.
  • Drumming helps create community. You have two roles: one is a receiver in the group and the other is as a contributor.  As the receptive one we listen, tune in. We can hear the group as a whole. We are part of something that is larger than ourselves!  As a participant, our contribution is essential. Even if you can only play one note, you nourish the group and yourself. As we play different parts together, we learn that each part is important in the music. When we learn to contribute in the workplace our presence allows others to feel comfortable to contribute as well.
  • Encouraging strength helps everyone become stronger. There are always individuals in our groups, who catch onto ideas or learn quickly. In our drum collective, the strong players can help all of us. Instead of feeling less-than or competing we can actually welcome those “ahead” of us. We can lean on them until we get the ground under our own feet more secure.

So the next time you have your team-building retreat, think of including the kind of activities that allow us to have our own voice, learn at our own pace, celebrate how we learn and the ability to know that our participation matters. Keep practicing being in your rhythm!

Zorina Wolf ( is author of “Whole Person Drumming: Your Journey Into Rhythm.” She trained under drum teachers in the United States and in Africa, and has taught workshops and drumming programs for more than 20 years.