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How to Practice Proper Drum Circle Etiquette

Whether it's a free-form jam or a facilitated community event, gathering to play the drums and dance has a set of unspoken agreements. Learn what they are and how to observe them in order to get the most enjoyment from your musical experience.


  • Step 1: Listen as much as you play to allow creative musical space for other players. If you're filling up every moment with your notes, no one else will have room to contribute theirs. Allow others a chance to solo.
  • Step 2: Don't smoke inside the circle. Drumming can be a very aerobic activity and the circle should be inviting to everyone, including non-smokers. Enjoy the beat.
  • FACT: The Earthdance event Drums of Peace, held in Northern California in 2004, broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the Largest Synchronized Drum Circle in the world.
  • TIP: Play at the volume of the group. If you can only hear yourself, you probably aren't communing with the rest of the players.
  • Step 3: Pay attention to the pulse of the music and go with the flow. Feel free to experiment and have fun within the group dynamic.
  • Step 4: Ask questions about what is expected, if you are newcomer. Be prepared to answer questions if you are a circle regular.
  • Step 5: Ask permission to play someone else's instrument. An instrument is a very personal possession for some drummers.
  • Step 6: Be aware of your body position. How you position yourself can close others off or open the circle and its energy to others.
  • Step 7: Take off jewelry, such as rings, watches, and bracelets to guard against instrument damage and to prevent injury.

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