Welcome to the online home of the DCFG

Speakers from the 2023 Conference

An amazing group from which to learn

Pre-Conference Workshops on Friday morning, February 24th, 2023

These workshops are free and require registration.

9:00-11:30 am

BrainPulse – An Experiential Deep Dive Into Our New Program!

Dr. Jane Bentley (Scotland) Lucas Coffey (Alberta, Canada) Mary Knysh (US)

Learn about a healthy brain through rhythm! BrainPulse is a 9-week program for schools and young people, using the drum circle as a metaphor to discover the brain and its functions: and how to take care of it.

The program covers topics such as: the brain as ensemble; neural networks; neuroplasticity; the complementary roles of the ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ brain; sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and the brain body connection. All aimed at deepening an understanding of how the brain works, and how to make healthy choices for a lifetime of flourishing brain health! 

All of this emerges through a series of specially adapted rhythm games and beautifully crafted musical development pieces, from three of the world’s expert music educators. We will dive into the program content, deliver a sample session, and explore the benefits of music making and brain health. The Brain Pulse online course offers facilitators the tools to deliver this multi-session program for themselves. Course content is delivered through a virtual platform offering real-world videos of sessions in action, structured lesson plans and resources, and ongoing contact with the course instructors.

Come refresh your practice and open up new musical, business, and neurological possibilities!

10:00-11:30 am

The Business Circle with Louis-Daniel Joly

Join Louis-Daniel, author of the Drum Circle Business Cookbook for a conversation about the business of drumming. Come with any questions or aspects you would like to discuss related to the business of running a drum circle business. 

Louis-Daniel has presented over 3000 drum circles since 2004 and is a certified global trainer for Village Music Circles. He founded Baratanga Productions, which annually presents over 400 percussion productions and drum circles. He holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Business Management, specializing in artistic entrepreneurship, from HEC Montreal.

2023 Conference Sessions


Mary Knysh: Balance & Resilience: Self, Circle & Sound.

Through rhythmic free play and music improvisation activities, we’ll celebrate the reunion of our global DCFG community. Together we will redefine our central purpose, connect to the pulse of our community and step into our future with revitalized energy and a fresh new groove that reflects our combined brilliance and resilience!  Read more here.

Mary Knysh, founder of Rhythmic Connections, Program Director for Music for People Organization, Professional Musician and International Author, NTLLL (Non-Traditional Lifelong Learner),  innovative educator, and expert in the field of music improvisation. Mary travels nationally and internationally offering professional development seminars, workshops and performances. Mary received the 2022 New Jersey Governor's award for excellence in arts education and is an endorser for Rhythm Band Instruments, TOCA percussion and Peripole Music.

Jane Bentley: Better living through drumming: Drum circles, mental health, and community

Now, more than ever, we need strategies for community, mental health, and human flourishing. Drum circles are an ideal tool for social reconnection and inclusion, and Jane been on a 15 year journey with one particular group - this session shares lessons learned along the way, stories of success, healing, and challenge, and strategies for developing your own practice in this area.

Jane has been a DCF for over 20 years, gaining the first ever PhD based on drum circles and improvisation, highlighting their effects on human wellbeing and social interaction. She is part of the Village Music Circles international training team.


Jim Boneau: 3 and 1 on the Run - Games as Platforms for Connection

Drum circle games are fun, but can a game become a platform for orchestration? In this session, Jim will show how the game Three and One can serve as a platform for expression, a vehicle for connection, and joyous journey through a community circle.

Jim brings his open heart as a facilitator, leader, and member of the DCF community. Jim’s expertise in leadership and group development have been expanded through interactive rhythm. Jim’s book, The Rumble Zone, launched as a bestseller.

Lucas Coffey, Jane Bentley, Mary Knysh: Introducing BrainPulse - building healthy brains through rhythm!

A drum circle consists of many parts that work together as a functioning whole - making it an excellent metaphor to help understand the brain and how it works. BrainPulse is a multi session rhythm and brain health programme for young people, using rhythm games, ensemble work and discussion to build healthy brains, and healthy drummers! And it's being launched at DCFG.

Lucas, Mary and Jane started working together online during the pandemic, sharing their love of rhythm, the brain, and work with young people, and came up with BrainPulse! Together, they have (at least) over 50 years of experience in the DCF field!

Lucas Coffey: Games for Youth: Shared Adversity

Common group work wisdom suggests building on small successes and positive reinforcement are the key to innovative teamwork. This session will explore an alternate route to creativity, interdependence, and group trust through "Shared Adversity." This session will outline how to use classic and original drum circle games to get IN the way, before we ultimately GET OUT OF THE WAY!

Lucas Coffey is the founder of Rhythm Rhythm Rhythm, a sold-out artist-in-residence program that has shared improvised music with over 100, 000 students throughout North America. He is the author of the e-book: Rhythm Improv with Youth: 4 Principles.

Lisa Colleen: Passing the Pulse: The Importance of Rhythm and Movement in the Communities We Serve

As rhythm evangelists we need to make sure we are encouraging the organizations we are serving to open up to the possibility of using rhythm on a daily basis. Passing the Pulse presentation will provide a bit of neuroscience coupled with easy rhythm activities to provide the people you serve with ideas to bring creative wellness tools to enhance the well-being of their communities.

Lisa Colleen is all about GROOVE: Gratitude, Rhythm, Optimism, Observation, Voice, Encouragement. She serves many communities, including seniors, special needs, schools, teen residential communities, child care centers and small businesses bringing the joy and power of finding/connecting to your groove.

Kathryn Eberle Cotter, MMT, MT-BC, MFT: From Funk to Flow: Engaging in drum circle experiences in family and community therapy settings

As a music therapist and a marriage and family therapist, Kathryn practices from a system’s theory perspective and the belief that people are a composite of their relationships. By drumming, Kathryn explores interpersonal dynamics in family therapy and community group settings as a means to identify and achieve desired change.

Kathryn is a music therapist and marriage and family therapist living and working in Pennsylvania, USA who is passionate about accessibility to mental health services and wellness resources for individuals, families, and communities.

Rhonwyn Hagedorn: Facilitating Change

Activism, advocacy, and community development - how are they related and fit into the description of a drum circle facilitator? The parallels between both may be more than you expect. Using key presentation concepts, the past, present, and future of DCFs will also be explored through a brainstorming session, and how social change can be created through our circles.

Rhonwyn is a VMC Certified DCF and VMC Global Trainer based in Malaysia. She co-runs MYbeat Drum Circles and the Asian Rhythm Facilitators’ Conference, as well as a rural community development program in Borneo.

Arthur Hull and Jim Boneau: 4 Mindsets to Maximize the Impact of Your Rhythm Events: Integrating VMC Techniques and Concepts

Your facilitator mindset is key to a presence of openness, confidence, kindness, and competence that helps your circle feel good and sound it’s best. Arthur and Jim will show how to integrate VMC techniques and concepts to take you to the next level.

Arthur Hull is the founder of Village Music Circles and at the core of the modern, facilitated, drum circle movement. Arthur's books include Drum Circle Spirit, Drum Circle Facilitation, Drum Circle Games, and the Drum Circle Facilitators Handbook.  Jim brings his open heart as a facilitator, leader, and DCF. Jim has co-led drum circle trainings with Arthur Hull alongside his professional facilitation work as a leadership coach. Jim’s book, The Rumble Zone, launched as a best seller.

Arthur Hull: Rhythm Church

The "Rhythm Church Sound Immersion Meditation" will be a facilitated In-The-Moment musical experience. It is an opportunity to take a "Brain Break" and just "Be.” Sunday Morning Rhythm Church will be facilitated by Arthur With a minimal amount of words and maximum amount of deep listening, Arthur will take us on a sound journey best described as Rhythm Church. Starting off with hand percussion (no drums please) and evolving to pentatonically-tuned gongs and chimes, we will journey to the magic spaces in between the notes. Be prepared to have your rhythmical spirit evoked in a deep way

Terry Pain: Bamboo Dance

The bamboo dance is shared by many cultures across Asia, each with their own rhythms, history, and cultural influences. In this interactive workshop, you will learn the different variations of the bamboo dance, its significance, and how you can take this into your own rhythmical interventions. Watch where you step!

Terry has been actively involved with drum circle facilitation since 2012 and is a VMC mentor. Terry is a trainer with Malaysia Airlines and brings rhythm interventions into her training programs for flight attendants.

Jeni Swerdlow, MA-ATR: Rhythm Reboot: Group Drumming to Release, Reconnect, and Restore Balance

At last, the world has re-opened! Workers are returning to the office, kids are back at school, folks are gathering. How can we help them release the grief and stress that they’ve been holding, reconnect with what is vital and alive, and move forward to the next chapter? In this experiential presentation I’ll show you an effective approach that can be applied to groups of any age and setting.

"Chief Rhythm Activator" at DRUMMM Rhythmic Events, Jeni Swerdlow is a dynamic and engaging facilitator, presenter and trainer with 20+ years experience. She brings passion, inspiration, and play to all DRUMMM's corporate and community events.

Steven Turner and Louis-Daniel Joly - VMC, GT (aka The Baldies): Presenting drum circle games and activities in schools

Learn new games, new ways to present drum circle activities and new ways to manage drum circles for kids. An hands on presentation that will allow you to build confidence and skills to center your facilitation, develop a group pulse and GROOVE!

Steven Turner, owner and founder of Giving Tree Music has been facilitating drum circles across the USA for almost 20 years. Using rhythm as a vehicle for building community and sharing joy he has worked with a variety of groups and in many settings. He is a VMC global trainer in the SE USA.

Louis-Daniel has presented over 3000 drum circles since 2004 and is a certified global trainer for Village Music Circles. He founded Baratanga Productions, which annually presents over 400 percussion productions and drum circles. He holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Business Management, specializing in artistic entrepreneurship, from HEC Montreal.

Greg Whitt, Moderator: The Art Of Business: a panel discussion connecting the left and right brain.

DCFG is providing this curated business panel tgat will draw on the expertise of business owners in the field of drum circles. Bring your questions! Panelists to be announced. 

Greg Whitt is a full time facilitator leveraging drum circles to share global wisdom traditions. He’s been a guild member for nearly 19 years, serving as treasurer, newsletter editor, social media manager, president, and currently as executive director of the organization

Yeshima: Group Drumming and Social and Emotional Learning in Music Education: A Review of Literature

Through a literature review of group drumming interventions, significant connections were made between entrainment, communication, and social and emotional well-being. Commonalities and differences in group drumming interventions will be discussed along with the classifications of group drumming and how they can be used to enhance a person’s social and emotional well-being.

Yeshima is an educator and percussionist of 27 years, and is self-employed at DrumSmart LLC where they provide group drumming opportunities for diverse populations. Yeshima is pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Kentucky.

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