There is a wide spectrum of conditions that are referred to as autistic. Our drumming clinics at Tobin World have shown a wide variety of responses. The language of the drum is our first language. Rhythm. Without judging, without aggression, without fear, the kids and adults can feel included in the conversation of life. They discover that they are in a group by feeling the steady downbeat. They contribute by supporting that anchor note. They smile and focus on us. The tempo needs to be forgiving; around forty beats a minute. The first note is the downbeat, in the middle of the djembe head, which should be tuned loose enough for the deep tone to be felt. It is the heartbeat of the group and the cornerstone of a coherent groove. It is essential to use the downbeat approach otherwise there is chaos. We are introducing order into the their distracted minds, without discipline, and without shame. They bloom, performing together in the group, and become cognizant of their place in the world. They respond to facial expressions of others.
When the low downbeat reverberates through the autistic group like a heartbeat, there is joy as well as communication.
excerpt” “History of the Groove” Russell Buddy Helm ©2015 buddyhelm.com