Stress Beaters

Cardiff’s Women-Only Drumming Circle Could Help You Unwind

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Drumming is an unusual remedy for stress, morning sickness or depression.

If the dark winter months are getting you down, you’re suffering from morning sickness or lacking confidence; don’t turn to pills, try drumming.

From 10am to midday on the first Saturday of every month, Arabic and African rhythms fill Cathays Methodist Church hall, on Crwys Road, Cardiff.

The beats come from Cardiff’s only women’s drumming class, which is run by Hannah Corr and attended by ladies of all ages and levels of skill.

A djembe

Hannah, 33, from Canton started up the classes last year.  She said: “It is taken it to a group who aren’t usually seen as drummers. It’s a very male thing to drum and is providing an opportunity for a group which doesn’t usually get it.

“I can think of one lady for whom it seems to have done a lot for her confidence. She feels she is limited when she drums and is quite down on herself, but with her it’s a confidence issue – it’s not technical.

“But every week it has just grown and grown and I think the reason is it’s a women’s group and the nature is about sharing and not competition. There’s no need to be perfect, which has given her the space to find her feet.”

During the lessons, Hannah teaches some beats then splits the group in two. One half play a basic rhythm to keep the pace and the other half play a more complex rhythm on top. Then, towards the end of the class, the students freestyle.

drum1Carol Woodford, 49, a customer service adviser, of Line Road, Riscal joined the class September last year. She said: “It’s like a comforting thing. I feel included in the rhythm and linked to nature and the world. We live in a rhythm and it makes me feel alive.”

Hannah, who also teaches belly dancing in Cardiff said she decided to start the classes because a lot of her fellow belly dancers loved the feel and sound of drums, but couldn’t find any classes to go to. But since then, its theraputic benfits have become clear.

She said: “My interest is to do with both dancing and therapy. It takes people out of their heads and into meditation and a state of stillness, which stops that negative chatter.”

In November, the group even tried its hand at the trance-inducing Zaar belly dance rhythm, in which the ladies repeated the same rhythm for a long stretch of time. In Arabic cultures, performing the Zaar is a way of exorcising negative energy.  It’s exhausting to play and can cause those involved to feel an array of (sometimes buried) emotions.

Hannah said: “It’s a feeling of being totally connected with the rhythm and a strong sense of unity. That we are tapping into something bigger than what we experience in the five sense reality. It’s a luxurious feeling you don’t get in every day life.”

Some people might dismiss drumming circles as a hippy attempt to stave off the “black dog“, but the drumming research centre, Health Rhythms has found drumming in groups improves peoples moods and reduces stress, which can lead to burnout.

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Pound away pregnancy pressure

Rachel Green, 34, a web developer, of Bertram Street, Cardiff joined the class to help combat pregnancy anxiety.

Rachel plays a frame drum
Rachel plays a frame drum

She said: “I find there is nothing better than drumming, particularly in a circle, to help with stress and anxiety. I have Asperger’s syndrome, which makes me prone to anxiety attacks.

“When I knew I was pregnant, I wanted to minimise these as much as possible for the sake of the baby.

“I try other things as well, such as meditation and yoga but nothing seems to have quite the same effect on me as drumming. I think concentrating on a regular rhythm helps to banish intrusive thoughts and feelings from my mind and this helps me to relax.

“Also, the physical act of hitting the drum with my hand helps to release aggression and tension.

“I benefit from the group being quite small and there being such a supportive and safe environment, but I don’t know whether allowing men into the group would change this or not.”

And since being interviewed, she still doesn’t. Rachel wasn’t at January’s class when a lady, who didn’t realise it was for women only, brought along her husband, because she was at home looking after her four-day-old baby boy.







Filed under Capturing Cardiff, Features

3 responses to “Stress Beaters

  1. Mallory Armstrong

    I think the drumming sounds pretty powerful and I like the article- hopefully it will encourage other women to join or perhaps to make their own drumming circles. I like the links which provide descriptions/explanations. I had not heard of Asperger’s syndrome before and didn’t realise that Churchill was half American and suffered from depression – inspiring to us all.
    It makes a welcomed change for a story to be positive and uplifting – so much journalism is negative and even though we are in a horrible recession it is like everything else, a cycle and will recover, and in the midst of all the misery there is still a lot to be thankful for.

  2. There was a drumming circle at a Unitarian church I was attending and it was a blast. I loved it. My friend went a couple times and he enjoyed it as well. It’s interesting to note the health benefits of drumming. Nice video! 🙂

  3. Jess Shankleman

    Good, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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