The Commons will adopt a new address of sorts at Old National Bank’s next First Fridays for Families event.
Hundreds of Little Drummer Boys and Girls will play borrowed drums, tambourines, wood blocks and other percussion instruments Friday under the leading of Indianapolis’ Bongo Boy Drum Circle, a group that firmly believes in bringing in the funk and the noise — all for a purpose beyond turning Columbus into a boomtown.
Lisa Colleen, activities director at Bongo Boy Recreational Music Center in Indianapolis, explains why those pounding away at the gathering will create more than simple sound and fury.
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“The drum is really a magical tool to bring people together,” she said. “It’s really a very nice way for people of all ages to engage creatively without worrying about whether they’re doing it wrong.”
So the Michael Jackson-esque message, if you will, is: just beat it.
Colleen has led groups as young as 8- and 9-months-old and senior groups with people as old as 105. She also has drummed with patients at Indianapolis’ Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. Heavens to shattering silence, she even regularly has drummed with kids at the Indianapolis Public Library — in a special, soundproof room, mind you.
Once people get hooked on the rhythm, there’s no hushin’ the percussion, as she sees it.
“For these family events, I think they’re popular because a dad can get on drum and just totally rock out at the same time that his little 2-year-old can be boppin’ around in a diaper. They can just have a great time together.”
Tami Sharp, the arts council’s program director, called Bongo Boy’s March 2013 visit to First Fridays “a big hit, no pun intended.” It was so big that this time, organizers are encouraging people to bring their own portable drums if they have them.
Bongo Boy leaders arrive with decorum and kindness along with about 200 instruments. They come bearing ear plugs for those who would rather tap their toes instead of a drum.
“Or sometimes, they will simply grab a (quiet) shaker,” Colleen said. “This isn’t at all about experienced drummers coming in to show people their chops.
“This is about connecting community together — and helping families find a way to communicate beyond mere words. And rhythm is a great way to communicate.”
Colleen has worked with troubled teens while using drumming to help them express pent-up feelings and emotions. And she is beginning to work with medical patients relying on drumming for health and wellness.
At The Commons, she expects that much of the activity, semi-structured with the help of an ensemble leader, will focus on a bit of old-fashioned, reverberating release.
“Usually, at these entertainment events, we do more just to get people to release stress and laugh a little more,” Colleen said. “We give them the freedom to be creative with their expression all the while being an important part of the bigger whole.”
What: The Columbus Area Arts Council presenting Old National Bank’s First Fridays for Families (presented on the second Friday this month because of the New Year’s holiday).
Who: Indianapolis’ Bongo Boy Drum Circle, encouraging youngsters with rhythm, guidelines for following a leader, unity and other skills.
When: 6 p.m. Jan. 8.
Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.
Information: 812-376-2539 or artsincolumbus.org.