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[back] Tithing in Malaysia: Drum Circles at the MPDA Arthur Hull - 30 July 2010

Tithing in Malaysia: Drum Circles at the Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association

As you know, tithing is the way I give back to the community that has given so much to me over the years. Where ever I go in the world, I look for the opportunity to facilitate a free event that has a population in it that needs the experience, but doesn't know what a gift drum circles could be for them, Or they do know, but can't afford to hire a facilitator to bring drums and give then a drum circle (DC) experience.

John Hagedorn did a DC for the Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association at their World Parkinson's Day Celebration in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia on April 11 last year and that event connected him to that special community.

Sara Lew is head of the Malaysia Parkinson's Disease Association and runs their community center.

She met John at the conference and then attended last year's Village Music Circles Facilitator (FAC) Playshop.

Muhaini is a corporate trainer who also graduated from last year's Malaysia FAC Playshop.

Sara Lew and Muhaini hooked up at that Playshop and Muhaini has been facilitating the drum circle at the Parkinson's Disease center once a week for many months now.

I always say to the corporate people in any Playshop training not to "Bata - Test " their Drum Circle skills on their corporate customers, but to practice in the community first.

The Parkinson's center is where Muhaini decided to practice. She is not just practicing any more, she is "Doing it"!

The Parkinson's Disease center is not a live in site, but a simple support center. The families have to drive the Parkinson patients to the center for the Drum Circle once a week. With family mixed in with the Parkinson's Disease patients, the drum circle turns into "Family Friendly" event.

Because it is held outdoors, the drum circle serenades the neighborhood and attracts people from blocks a way who come and participate. Because of that, the circle has now become a weekly community drum circle.

Community and family is just what the Parkinson's Disease patients need.

They moved the regular day of the circle to accommodate my tour schedule and yet every one showed up.

Muhaini thought that I would facilitate the whole event, but I made her start and close the circle, so that the News Press would give her the coverage that she deserved.

  • Dato' Tan Hang Kim, JP

    One of the major benefactors of the center, Dato' Tan Hang Kim, came by to see the drum circle. Dato' is a title that is bestowed to a respected person It means grandfather or Sir as in a person who is Knighted in England.

    He was very impressed with the enthusiastic participation in the event by the patients.

    We were drumming outside under a small Patio overhang with a canopy tent snuggled next to it in order to create as much shade as possible. It did not give us all the shade that the 37 drummers needed. The circle population was mostly crowded together under the shade, and it was a little sparse in the sunlight.

    When Dato Tan Hang Kim saw that some of the players had to play in the sunlight, he told Sara that he will buy a new permanent canopy that will shade the whole patio area. Soon everyone in the regular drum circle will get to play in the shade.

    There were reporters from two different KL news papers there. They started interviewing me after I had pushed Muhaini into the circle to facilitate the group for some "Photo - Op".

    Of course they asked about the benefits of drumming with Parkinson's patients.

    It was right about then that I pointed to a lady in a brown shirt who's left hand was shaking violently with Parkinson's Disease. At the same time, she was keeping perfect time on her bottom drum while holding the mallet in her right and perfectly steady hand. I later found out that her name was Rajes, a 69 year old Parkinson's Disease patient who is one of the regular attendees at the Parkinson's Disease Center drum circles.

    When Muhaini made a stop cut on Rajes's side of the circle, both of her hands shook with Parkinson's Disease while she waited to play. When Muhaini called every one back into the groove to play, Rajes right hand steadied once again as she began to play her base drum. The reporters were astounded by what they saw.

    A live experience is worth a thousand written words.

    They held a community pot luck after the circle, then it was tea time, and then we all went out to lunch. No wonder I got half of my extra stomach from my last years visit to Malaysia.

    Tithing is a part of my walk and talk. Giving back to the "Church of Rhythm" through Tithing is good for the facilitator, and also for the community. Doing Tithing helps you to remember your roots by giving it away, So every once in a while, Do a Drum Circle for free. It will always come back to you ... 10 fold, in positive ways that you can't imagine.

    Sara Lew, head Parkinson's Disease center, is now a regular at Ronwin Hagedorn' Community drum circle at Kiara Park.

    Ronwin Hagedorn is John Hagedorn's 16 year old daughter who is probably the youngest professional drum circle facilitator in the world. She has never missed a Malaysia Village Music facilitator training, and it shows ...

    Life is such a wonderful dance ... Give it away when ever you can ...

    Arthur in Malaysia
    June 14, 2010

    Arthur Hull
    Village Music Circles(tm)
    719 Swift Street Suite 65
    Santa Cruz CA 95060
    (Editor's Note: The event was held on Thursday, 10 June 2010 at the Parkinson Center. All pictures are furnished by MPDA).