Have you ever noticed how much fun it is to be around someone who is being completely authentic? Not only do they light up, but they seem to light up every thing and every one around them.
When we think about authenticity, we tend to think of individuality, but being authentic isn’t really about the individual at all. Being authentic is a blessing that ripples out and impacts others more than we can possibly know.
Rick Cormier is one of those people who continually blesses countless others, all because he unabashedly shares his love of drumming.
Rick has literally written the book on freestyle drumming circles, but you would never guess it because he is not interested in displaying expertise or authority. He only wants to share music and joy.
He does that like no one I’ve ever seen.
For the past 10 years, Rick has been facilitating Different Drummers Drum Circle based out of Yarmouth, Maine. (This is after he solidly established a drum circle in Massachusetts.)
“Freestyle” isn’t just a catchphrase with Rick. He means it in every sense of the word. There is never a fee for drumming. There are three standard dates per month — month after month, year after year. No sign-up required or even requested.
Come or don’t come. Drumming starts at 6:30, but you can show up anytime and leave anytime.
The evening’s drum circle is over when the last drummer has finally had their fill. No experience or musical talent needed. You don’t even need a drum. Rick brings plenty to share.
There are no rules. Rick will give you his five-minute lesson (if you ask for it) but other than that there is no instruction.
All people and all instruments are welcomed and brought into the fold.
Sometimes the drum pieces are loud and chaotic. Other times, they are eerily quiet and beautiful. The synchronicity of the group is often amazing and the drumming is always fun!
I have heard Rick say many times that he can’t take credit because he doesn’t do anything but make the space. Yet, he does so much more than he realizes.
He does make the space. But it’s more than putting the dates on the calendar and showing up with drums. Not only does he create an environment in which people feel safe to experiment, but he infuses that space with a sense of welcoming playfulness that is pure magic.
It’s hard to say exactly how he accomplishes this. I’m sure there are innumerable factors. But I’d have to say the biggest factor comes down to Rick being willing to BE himself and share himself fully.
I wish everyone could have the experience of sitting in the middle of a drum circle with Rick Cormier.
I get such a kick out of watching people experience it for the first time. In the beginning, especially if they are new to drumming, they may be a bit hesitant and reserved. But within just a few minutes, they visibly begin to relax.
Their eyes are drawn to Rick. How can they not be? Rick’s enthusiasm grows with every minute spent drumming. Even though Rick bangs on the drum with his hands, he seems to get more and more of his body involved as the minutes pass by.
To me though, the best part is his smile. It begins normally enough. However, like the movement of his arms, it becomes more enthusiastic and grows exponentially until he is drumming with a wide-open mouth and a spirit that’s beaming with joy.
I am afraid that my words cannot begin to give this justice. I will provide a video so that you can see for yourself. I do want to use my words, however, to say that Rick’s authenticity is absolutely a blessing in my life. I have had an immense amount of fun drumming with Rick but his real gift to me is that, through his example, I am inspired to let my own authenticity shine.
Thank you, Rick!
Here’s a video of Rick in action. I’m sure you’d be able to figure it out soon enough, but Rick is the first drummer on the left.
Rick and his wife Judy are moving on to new adventures in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I will continue drumming and even though I can’t imagine not being able to sit across from that great big smile in the middle of drum circle, I am comforted by the fact that many more unsuspecting people will be blessed by the gift of Rick’s joyful authenticity.