In our little corner of Harlem, West African-style drummers have formed a circle and played for decades in the park every Saturday. Others provide accompaniment on trumpets, flutes, spoons, cowbells, gourd rattles and tambourines. This Drummer’s Circle is a ritual that began in 1969.
Whenever we take Chase to the park and he hears the drums from a distance, he asks to walk over. Ever since he’s been a baby, when he feels a rhythm he moves. He has a connection to music that is deep and inherent. So naturally, at the Drummer’s Circle, he begins to dance and sway, which elicits approving nods and claps from the elders.
This past weekend he was invited to join the musicians in the Drummer’s Circle. My heart swelled with pride as he played his first congo drums. What an honor!
Chase @ 2 Years, 4 Months
What Derek and I were most impressed with was the fearless way he walked into that circle. And when they invited him in, it wasn’t to just dance and be a “cute little toddler.” They recognized something in him. We strongly believe that. It was a connection that like souls have. And according to Derek, just before Chase walked into the Drummer’s Circle to accept their invitation, he looked back at him… not with shyness, uncertainty, or even to ask permission. But rather, with a look that said, “Well I don’t know what ya’all are about to do, but I’m going to join them in this circle.”
When he played, it was with confidence and joyful abandon. It was like he had come “home.”
While the community we live in may indeed be “regentrified” in ways, we are happy this wonderful tradition lives on. And I am so glad our boy is experiencing first-hand such a rich and important part of his cultural history.