On the Lake Erie shore, rhythms from hand drums fill the air each warm Sunday at Edgewater Park. The music comes from a circle of both friends and strangers, sharing beats created as they go.
Created by friends Mitsu Saito and Wally Gunn, The Cleveland Drum Circle came together in a yoga studio during the summer of 2008. Thanks to Meet Up, a website created for people to find clubs, classes, etc. suited for their interests, the drummers reached out to others wanting to join an open hand drum and percussion jam group. After noise complaints made by the tenants above the studio, the drummers moved their music by the lake.
Playing at Edgewater Park brought even more people to the group. Eric Vogt, the circle’s current organizer, says he made close friends from playing each week.
“People hear the drums and they come over,” says Eric. “There's just something about getting together with people from different backgrounds and skill levels, when the rhythm is like a unifying factor that brings people together.”
Eric explains the reason behind this phenomenon is that no matter where you come from, music is a part of every culture. He even says playing in drum circles is therapeutic, and brings out his spirituality. The point of the drum circle is to be unrehearsed and open to all, as playing off each other forms the rhythms.
“To me, the drum circle is a sacred space,” says Eric. “If somebody comes in and tries to disrupt that positive energy that we've created, I will ask them to go away.”