Beating to Our Own Drums

By Ann Saponara

As the first part of a 2015 series about creativity, GI! gratefully accepted the invitation of Music Therapist Juliane Kowski for a mother-daughter drum circle on Sunday, February 8, at her Berkeley studio called Music Connects. It’s a perfect name. Together four moms and six daughters discovered that music really does connect us in a unique way to one another and also to our own innovative, creative selves. We sat with Julie for an hour and a half in a drum circle and learned much.

We started by listening to our own heartbeat and drumming how we heard it as everyone echoed the sound with their own drumming. Juliane’s confidence that we all are naturals at drumming allowed each of us to improvise freely. Each heart really does beat to the sound of a different drum!

Then Julie encouraged mothers and daughters alike to name some of our stresses. She wrote them on a drum and we exuberantly drummed them out. The pace was a little frantic and loud. It was energizing while simultaneously wonderfully draining. When we switched gears to naming ways we cope with stress like talking with friends, listening to or making music, relaxing into writing, being in nature, dancing, doing something active, walking, or purposely ignoring stressors, the mood of our drumming changed. We were quieter and more peaceful drummers and together we improvised a surprisingly cohesive melody that was lovely.

My ten year old daughter Lela says she learned that you can communicate your mood when you’re drumming and you can really listen to other people. Her twin sister Ella says she loved switching to different drums in the circle so we could all try out many different sounds. I deeply appreciate Juliane’s faith that we are each natural born drummers and her gift in being maestro to the art and play that magically and immediately appears in a drum circle. A huge thank you for her generosity of time, drums, shakers and much talent!

Juliane works with individuals and groups at schools, hospitals and in her studio, Music Connects, at 1415 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley. Her website is