By Karen Cornelius
It was just a perfect evening to be at Main Street Beach on Thursday, June 8, where there was a gathering on the sandy shore of Lake Erie forming a drumming circle to beat down the sun. While this is a fairly new activity for Vermilion, it’s not new going back in history and even pagan times.
Shore Thing coordinator Jennie Pryor came up with the idea last year and hopes it will grow bigger this year on the second Thursday of the month with July 13, August 10, and September 14 on the calendar. Pryor said she has even seen some medical research done on drumming groups which are popular in larger cities, in Florida on the beaches and on the ocean. Supposedly, the circles are helpful to the immume system and hearing. They can take away stress and anxiety and rid people of negative feelings. Although she is not so sure of all those benefits, the Vermilion experience is much simpler. It’s just to have fun establishing a beat with percussion instruments. Nothing fancy, even oatmeal containers can be drums or coffee cans. Bring drums, shakers, maracas, and tambourines and join in the beat.
It was in Florida when the Pryors first connected with drumming circles who were pulling big crowds. “I thought we’ve got a beach in Vermilion, come on now, we have nice weather, we’re smaller, but we can create our own circle,” said Jennie. She expressed she wanted this to be for the community and for families, especially children. “Kids make me happy and I’d like to get more youth involved.” The evening should be fun with playing in the sand, beating on containers or drums, swinging hoola-hoops. “We drum until the sun sets. It’s communing with our beautiful surroundings and nature,” said Pryor.
In an effort to involve more youth, Pryor contacted the churches and youth ministry directors. Making little drums to bring to the circle could be a craft session, and playing in the circle could develop into participating in church services. She also contacted the Oberlin College Music Department and they were happy to send two Oberlin Conservatory of Music students to the June 8 circle, Justin Gunter and Louis Pino. According to Pryor they were so cooperative and brought a van full of instruments. They gave the group training lessons to learn how to repeat their beats. Pryor said they are ready to come back again.
“The drumming circle is for everybody whether or not you are a musician, want to be silly, or just watch what’s happening by sitting on the boardwalk.” To Pryor, it’s a great feeling to see a smile, make a nonverbal connection to others and try to get that beat. “We’re not making noise.” In case of rain, the circle will continue at the Victory Park gazebo.
The drumming circle is a Shore Thing event along with the little shelter at the beach selling beverages and snacks, renting umbrellas and chairs, and acting as an information booth as well. New for Shore Thing this summer is youth team volunteers who help out once a week putting up umbrellas and attending to the needs of the Main Street Beach guests. “We Shore Thing shareholders are getting older, our knees are creaking,” laughed Pryor who welcomes more young volunteers. She would write letters for them for community service credit. Anyone interested can call Jennie at 614-891-6247 or call for further information on the drumming circle.