Weekly drum circle reverberates with participants

November 17, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

Dr. Tim Larkin (right) leads students and staff in a drum circle on Mondays on the Promenade.

Story by Lydia P. Robles
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau

Inspired by his “hippie days” joining drum circles at Grateful Dead and Phish concerts, Dr. Tim Larkin wanted to bring this inclusive environment to Grand Canyon University’s campus.

That drumming heard during the Monday noon hour is courtesy of Larkin and his fellow percussionists.

The drum circle is not meant to be serious. It’s just fun.

The music comes from the shaded area between the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Student Advising Services buildings. For eight years, the CHSS professor has been hauling out a cart full of congas, maracas, drumsticks and bongos for students, faculty and staff who want to join in on the beat.

Larkin sees the drum circle as an opportunity for students to break away from classroom settings.

“There need to be spaces where students aren’t structured,” he said. “It’s a spontaneous dynamic of creating a community, enjoying each other and not having to be so structured.”

When it comes to stepping out of comfort zones and breaking down walls, Larkin gives drumming all the credit.

“There are a couple things you have to overcome: your self- consciousness and opening yourself up to a process you don’t know where is going,” he said. “I think this process is refreshing for students.”

For forensic science student Grace Albright, the drum circle at GCU is a form of stress relief.

“I have a lot of stressful classes as a science major,” she said. “So being able to make music with people and getting outside my comfort zone is a fun experience.”

Anyone can join the drum circle. All they have to do is sit down and start banging the drum.

Other students seeking a break from the books also got involved with the jam session.

“We had a whole nursing cohort come out and play with us for a while and joked saying, ‘We will be back – we have an exam next week,’” Albright said.

It is not every day that people come across a circle of instruments and melody in the middle of campus. Those involved in the circle receive mixed reactions from passersby.

“We get people who hesitate to join, but all it takes is a ‘c’mon, we’ll show you how,’” Albright said. “Last week we got a good rhythm going, and a group of students danced around in the middle of the walkway for a couple minutes.”

People who have never touched a congo, maraca or musical instrument can find fun from the circle.

“You don’t need to worry about judgment from us because we’re here to show you what to do,” Albright said. “It doesn’t matter if you have a sense of rhythm or not. We’re all here to have a good time.”


Related content:

GCU Today: Q&A: Dr. Timothy Larkin, volunteer award winner

GCU Today: Colloquium kicks off with acclaim for McClean

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