The deep thud of Djembes echoed through the Gateway of Hope last Thursday night (March 9), as members of the homeless community gathered for a drumming workshop.
Hosted by Michelle Duckett, known as the ‘Drum Whisperer,’ participants played small goblet shaped drums and percussion instruments as Duckett guided them through pop songs and music exercises while playing her own drum kit.
This is the third time that Duckett has brought her workshop for free to the shelter.
“I know how healing it is for me, and I know that this will be healing for people who come here,” Duckett said.
“Music is medicine. And so I feel like I’m giving medicine to them, and allowing them to play their own beat, play to their own drum.
“I think it’s really important to be true to yourself, and I find that drumming is really — there’s no words. It’s easy to express yourself through drumming, and I mean, I was just looking at some of the faces of the people here, and they were so into it, they were just in the moment. And that’s why I love drumming so much, and music. It’s in the moment, and that’s where you find peace and joy.”
The workshop was part of the Gateway’s Coffee House — a weekly event that takes place Thursday evenings from 5 to 6:30 p.m., where participants have the opportunity to eat a hot meal, and enjoy coffee, treats and music.
One of the drumming participants was Langley City Coun. Gayle Martin, who has been volunteering at the shelter for the past five years.
On Thursday nights she oversees the Coffee House, helping with the set up and take down, and the serving of cookies and coffee.
“Everybody really enjoys it. It’s a way for people to relax and interact with each other,” Martin said.
“It’s just something away from their life that they normally live.”
Each week a different musical act is brought in by volunteer Sandy Dunkley, ranging from soloists and bands, to line dancers.
“I’m supposed to be at my Rotary meeting every Thursday night, but you know what? To me, this means a lot,” Dunkley said.
“And the people, my bands — they are the same. They have that heart, that giving, so they come without even a question… I never have a problem finding anyone for this Thursday night, ever. And they’re all good.”
After the workshop, one of the participants walked up to Dunkley to thank her for the evening.
“I waited all week, I was stoked all week,” the man said to her.
“Did you have fun tonight?” Dunkley asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
“See, isn’t that awesome?” she said. “That, to me, says it all. That’s why we do this.”