Jane Gerughty

Getting in rhythm together

Pacifican helps Coastsiders feel the beat

Jane Gerughty leads an active, enthusiastic drum circle that meets in Pacifica — outdoors when possible, indoors if necessary. The group is open to all, but the majority of its members are women. A former high school teacher, Gerughty comes naturally to teaching. At a recent drum circle attended by Coastside magazine reporter Eileen Campbell, she led the group through some basic rhythms and then let the drums roll.

1. What's a typical meeting of the Pacifica Drum Circle like? A typical meeting might be a gathering of 10 or more people at Linda Mar Beach, Frontierland Park or an indoor venue like the library. People of all ages and experience levels bring various drums or percussion instruments.

It all started during the pandemic with a desire to connect and get outside after being isolated. Our first gatherings were at Frontierland Park. Last year, Linda Mar Beach was a popular space. Different people have led the group. Jeni Swerdlow, Paul Loscavio and I have all taken on the role as facilitators. Recently, I have teamed up with Shirley McClure and Jane Kang of Oceanside Healing to provide regular biweekly drum circles with the intention of connecting to the local community in a more structured way. We've had two full-house sessions with about 20 participants.

2. How did you become interested in drumming? As a local secondary educator I was one of the few who extensively trained in mindfulness through Mindful Schools and the Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley. Sound meditation was part of the curriculum that really spoke to me. During the pandemic I took online djembe and taiko drum lessons and started making drums out of repurposed materials. I've always loved taiko drumming. Recently I became certified as a drum facilitator with Village Music Circles under Jeni Swerdlow, using the Arthur Hull method.

3. What motivated you to start a drum circle?  Someone in the Pacifica Locals Facebook group asked if there were any local drum circles. There wasn’t anything near Pacifica, so I suggested we start one. We did, and it was a super fun and positive way to connect and meet each other. I've made a very nice group of friends from the Pacifica Drum Circle.

4. How do you think drumming benefits people — and women, in particular? Drumming in a group is a safe way to connect, create and express ourselves. I feel very different after a drum circle session, in a very positive way. For me, it is a mindfulness activity or mediation. I feel a release of tension. There is data available that drumming helps overall health. It can reduce feelings of stress. It can lower blood pressure and boost brainpower, and it increases confidence levels. Many of us enjoy the collaboration and interactiveness of a rhythm circle.

5. Do women have a different approach to drumming? It really varies by person. There are all kinds of drum circles and facilitation styles. Some circles are celebrative, playing hard and fast, while others are more interactive, collaborative and reflective. I also enjoy a soothing, calming, meditation-style drum circle. Listening is a very important skill in a drum circle. The empty spaces are where music is made. Sometimes women are better at the empty spaces. Coastside

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