Drum circle

The Chandler Drum Circle is marking its 10th anniversary this year, though various occurrences stopped it from convening for seven years. Now it has found a home in the Chandler Library. (Special to Tribune)

The Chandler Drum Circle is marking its 10th anniversary this year, but not a lot of people have probably noticed. For a drum circle, they’ve been pretty quiet.

Now as they are coming out of the pandemic, that might be changing.

“Last Sunday (Aug. 2) it was amazing,” said Bart Salzman, one of the co-founders of the group. “I’d say oh, we had 38 people here, that’s a record.”

Salzman said he got the idea to start a Chandler drum circle after attending a First Friday event in Phoenix. He, Julia Norton of Sun Lakes and Lori Wollery of Chandler formed a drum circle that made its debut in 2012.

Those first few events were held downtown during the farmer’s market. However, it wasn’t long before vendors trying to sell their food complained they couldn’t hear their customers because of the drumming.

So, the Chandler Drum Circle moved to the SoZo Coffeehouse patio. However, during the summer it started to get hot and there was not enough room for a drum circle inside. 

So the drums stopped beating for nearly seven years. Then came a surprising request: The Chandler Library was interested in hosting the drum circle.

“I said, ‘My drum circle at the library? You've got to be kidding?’ So I responded to her, and I said, ‘Well, if you give us a room for free, yeah, I’d love to do it.’ We get an air-conditioned room once a month. She put us down and we started in 2018.

“Then the pandemic hit.”

The drums began thumping again in January and attendance has been growing. Anyone can join and no musical talent or experience is needed. They have a limited number of drums available for anyone who wanders in.

One person was attracted to the sounds and is now a regular part of the group is Niti Garg of Chandler. She said she was in the library and heard the drums, and felt compelled to see what was happening.

“I come to the library with my kids all the time,” Garg said. “And one time I heard something going on. I was very shy, like what’s going on and they’re like, come, come. They’re very welcoming. I’m not a musician, I don’t play anything. And my kids enjoy it. So that is my number one thing.”

A drum circle at the library kind of destroys the stereotype of a librarian shushing everyone to be quiet.

“We do story times here in the morning, and I will tell you right now, when you hear what 30, 40 kids jumping up and down and you know, it’s not a quiet place,” said Librarian David Mackay.

Mackay says when the drum circle is going, you can feel it throughout the building.

“I remember the first time that we had this, you know, back before the pandemic, I remember being like, what is going on? You could feel it. Like it was all over.”

A facilitator leads the circle. Salzman said he feels very fortunate to get a professional, Frank Thompson, to volunteer to lead Chandler’s.

“What is amazing about him, is he doesn’t say anything, but you know when it’s time to stop,” Cassie Bentley said. “And everybody stops. And he changes the rhythm, he didn’t say anything. He just changed his rhythm in the beat and you just follow along.”

Wollery, one of the co-founders, explains why she enjoys being part of the circle.

“It’s amazing how we become cohesive,” she said. “When everybody comes in, and it’s like, ‘Well I don’t play drums, I can’t do this!’ And then it kind of becomes a heartbeat. For a non-professional bunch of amateurs, it’s an amazing thing to be part of.”

If You Go...

What: Chandler Drum Circle

Where: Downtown Chandler Public Library, 22 S. Delaware

When: 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 4

Who can drum?: Anyone

Info: chandlerdrumcircle.wordpress.com

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