A row of drums sits center stage in the activity room of the assisted living community on the Ravenwood Campus of Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown.
As residents fill seats around the room’s perimeter, there’s a little buzz in the air and a lot of smiles on faces. Some know what’s coming, but a few are new to the activity and wonder just what will be happening.
“We see a lot of regulars,” says Ed Poling, leader of Tri-State Drum Circle, the group that has been bringing percussion fun to residents here and at the Robinwood Campus as well, for about a year. Poling conducts audience-participation drum circles with his wife, Marge, and another helper also named Ed, who’s been dubbed “the other Ed.”
To begin, each resident receives a small bead-filled shaker. Poling leads the group through activities that demonstrate basic rhythm through more-complex sounds and songs.
The group members move from the shakers to small drums and other percussion instruments and, in doing so, pick up the pace of their playing. Using their instruments, the group plays familiar songs, such as “She’ll be coming round the mountain” and “You are my sunshine.” Of course, they know the words and join in singing.
“I’m celebrating that I’m enjoying the heck out of this!”
Then they move on to the big drums. Their final “performance” is an African chant, for which Poling first teaches the English words and then Nigerian lyrics.
“It’s a way for them to interact and have fun,” says Poling, a retired Church of the Brethren pastor. “It brings them joy. Everyone can join in, no special training needed.”
Ed Poling leading the Hagerstown group ...
Gail Snyder, Diakon Senior Living’s recreation director/volunteer coordinator, agrees.
“I think it helps the residents to delve into their creative side,” she says. “They feel comfortable to share themselves. It is very therapeutic. They smile every time they participate.”
Perhaps one resident, Linda, expresses it best. During an activity called the Celebration Rumble, each person raises a hand, states his or her name and is greeted by the others in the group. The individual then shares what he or she is celebrating.
“I’m celebrating that I’m enjoying the heck out of this!” Linda says.