Drum circles are gaining momentum in Birmingham—here’s why + where to find them

John Scalici
Unifying the Birmingham community through music. (John Scalici)

Are you looking to be part of a community? The word’s in that playing music with fellow Birminghamians is the way to do that. Musician and drum circle facilitator John Scalici is hosting community drum circles for everyone to join to promote unity and to provide a space to meet others. Keep reading to learn more about John and how you can participate in a drum circle.

Meet John Scalici

Since he was ten, John has been immersed in the world of music. He’s a Birmingham local—a John Carroll grad—and a self-taught musician. His childhood hobby grew into a career as he played in bands and toured around the country as a drummer. Needless to say, he’s a talented musician with a lot of experience and knowledge under his belt.

John wanted to continue his passion for drumming and rhythm and share it with others. He discovered there were people using interactive rhythm programs, or drum circles, to build community. So, he trained extensively with village music circles in California. He’s also spent a lot of time in Asheville, North Carolina and San Francisco, California—two cities with a large presence of drum circles.

Using the knowledge he’s gained from his training and musical career, John began to host drum circles in Birmingham. One way he shares his expertise and love for music with others is through Get Rhythm!—a program bringing different types of drum circles to corporate groups, schools and all types of special events. Wheter you’re a kid or an adult, the program’s goal is to inspire, empower and motivate participants.

What is a drum circle?

John Scalici
Have you ever been part of a drum circle? (John Scalici)

The definition is in the name—drum circles are a group of people playing drums together. You don’t need previous experience to join. Get Rhythm! focuses on three different types of drum circles:

  • Community drum jams: Perfect for people with no musical experience—it unifies a group by giving them a space to create music and rhythms together.
  • Djembe: Drum circles using rhythms from Guinea, West Africa and surrounding countries. 
  • Therapeutic drumming: These drum circles help people engage and heal through music, including drug and alcohol treatment programs, children and adults with special needs and youths at detention centers.

What are the benefits of a community drum circle?

John Scalici
Forming a community regardless of age or experience. (John Scalici)

When John came back to Bham, he realized that community drum circles could be a way that he could unite The Magic City through music.

“This is my hometown. When I came back to Birmingham, I noticed that there was not a drumming community here that that gathered on a regular basis.

When I first started showing up at different places, I might have had two people show up. Now, there are 30-50 people. I think people want to be together—they want to experience community. One of the best ways to do that is is through rhythm.”

John Scalici, Founder, Get Rhythm!

It’s not a music lesson and John’s not the music teacher during community drum circles. Instead, he’s the facilitator—he’s helping each person find their own groove and way to express themselves rhythmically. Regardless of your age or experience, John welcomes everyone to be part of the drum circle.

Self-expression is just one way that drum circles are a form of musical therapy. They also can help reduce stress and better your mood. While talking to John, it’s easy to see why—joy radiated from him as he described the community drum circles.

How to find a drum circle in The Magic City

John Scalici
Be on the lookout for an upcoming event. (John Scalici)

Fortunately, John has made it easy for everyone to be part of a drum circle. His Birmingham Drum Circle Facebook group plans a community drum circle event each month, with the location and times varying. These drum circles are open to anyone regardless of experience—just show up with your own equipment and get ready for a community drum jam.

Soon, John is starting a regular community drum circle at City Walk that’s open to the public:

  • When: Friday, October 21 & Friday, November 18 | 6-8PM
  • Where: the first block of City Walk just down from 16th Street Baptist Church

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Selah Vetter
Selah Vetter
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