Last year, I was an intern in the Advancement department of Music for All. The first meeting that I attended was in Muncie to speak with community organizations about partnering with Music for All during our Summer Symposium. We had many interested and ended up with seven incredible partners which helped launch the first year of the Summer Symposium Community Engagement Program.

This year, I have had the opportunity to manage this program and help grow and expand our outreach to the Muncie community. We have fourteen partners and have increased the amount of opportunities for the partners and community members to participate in active music making.

Cornerstone Center for the Arts has been a partner of Music for All for both years and hosted the first community drum circle on Wednesday. The Summer Symposium faculty member, Matt Savage, brought together and taught an hour session to a group of thirty-two people of all ages.

With such a wide range of ages and background, it made it fun to come together with a sense of community. Some in attendance have never played a drum before, and one brought her own drum and that is the beauty of a drum circle. You don’t need to have experience or be a certain age, you just need to be eager to learn and connect with the people around you.

During the hour session, Matt taught a variety of different rhythms and invited parents and children to join him in the middle to lead the circle. We had a young boy march around the middle guiding us when to hit the drums, and another who directed us to get softer or louder. Another woman also got a chance to march around the center and cut off the group. It was incredible to see the energy in the room grow each time a new person was in the middle.

At the end, each person had the opportunity to create their own rhythm and we all played at the same time. We were instructed at times to only have a portion of the circle continue playing to hear what others were contributing to the ensemble, and that is something that has really stuck with me. Listening to others and respecting and valuing their contribution is something that could be more widely practiced.

The opportunity to plan and participate in this drum circle has had a great impact on me, and I am thankful to have been able to connect with the community members. I look forward to help provide more positively life-changing experiences for this community and our Summer Symposium campers.