The Buoy Blog: When did your love of drumming start?
Christopher Brewster Phillips: My stepfather used to be a jazz drummer. He never played for me, but he had his drum set in a closet and I begged him for years to let me try it. When I finally could take lessons around 10 years old, I was thrilled. Then, I spent several years taking lessons, learning from friends, and playing in a rock band in high school. I went to San Francisco when I was 18 years old. There I bought a drum at the Haight-Ashbury Music Center and played djembe. I didn’t really know how to play the notes, but it was a perfect to stay away from other (negative) stuff.
TBB: Who taught you Djembe ?
CBP: I learned from people like Ubaka Hill, Arthur Hull, and Marc Wood.
I went to Africa, Burkina, Namibia, and Morocco, to meet a friend who was in the Peace Corps. I could play drums with nice people over there. They taught me a lot.
TBB: What is the difference between a drum circle here and in Africa?
CBP: I would say that in West Africa, drums are more culturals. Here, people are more interested in its spiritual side.
TBB: Why did you decide to teach people?
CBP : I wanted people to go outside with their drums and play! People keep buying djembe for decoration, but they are made to be played. They are powerful instruments. So go out and make some noise! Now, I have created Hoops N Drums with my wife, and we go to assisted living centers and cancer centers to help people feel better.
TBB: LBB : What are the benefits of drumming?
CBP : The sense of being part of a community. You join a circle. Someone starts a rhythm and the other drums follow and play on that. It gives you a feeling that everybody around you is part of a family. It doesn’t matter who you are outside the circle. You forget about your trouble and your pain.
The drum has also a restorative power. I have witnessed the healing part of drumming. I was once at one of Hubaka’s healing sessions. A woman was standing in front of me. I had to play a little drum in front on her, from head to toe. It had a specific sound that didn’t change until I arrived at the lady’s leg. It was completely different. Then she said that she had had an accident and her leg was badly injured. When she did the drumming on my body, the sound changed on my ankle where I had once broken it. Our body emits vibration; it’s our energy.
Drums can slow down the beat of your heart. They are great in helping to reduce tension, anxiety or stress. Some physical benefits are improved digestion and alignment of organs that we need for our balance.
TBB: Is it why drums are a tool for meditation?
CBP: Listening to a drum is like staring at a fire. You concentrate on the rhythm and you forget about the rest. Lie down on your back, look at the stars and let the music take your somewhere else.
To have more information on:
Hoop N Drums