Midwest Update Boomwhacker Music

Rivka Recht, LPC Case Manger, Chai Lifeline Midwest  

Everyone say “Boomwhacker”

Boomwhacker” we all reply, in doubtful voices. 

“Say it like you mean it! Boomwhacker!” 

Boomwhacker! We call out slightly more heartily. 

But, despite the heartiness of the call, I still felt doubtful in my heart. I work as a case manager for Chai Lifeline, and this is our long-awaited “Mom’s Retreat,” the undisputed highlight of our year. We take the moms to a hotel for 24 hours of serious rest, relaxation, pampering, workshops, fun, gourmet meals and most of all, in person (kid free) connections. I can’t fully put into words what this experience does for our moms and our staff. However, I don’t want to leave you hanging and trust me, no one wants to hang when a boomwhacker is involved! After a day full of inspiration, food and fun we were at our night activity, the long-awaited for drum circle! I looked at the colorful display, various boomwhackers, (which are tube like instrumental pieces) on everyone’s chair, and cringed inwardly. This was a bad idea. We bring the moms out here to this gorgeous resort and spa, and now we are going to bang out some horrid tempo and give all the moms headaches just when It’s winding down time. Who needs this? Not me, and not this group of moms trying to relax and have some peace. In my head I drew a line through the term drum circle. Never. Again.

 I space back in as everyone shouts “BOOMWHACKER!” one more time. My list crystalizes in my mind. Never. Again. The man is trying to give more instructions so I decide to do what I always promise my clients in therapy, I will not judge. Since he is not my client, and since the garish looking boomwhackers are scaring me, I decide that for him I will not judge, until the end of this drum circle session, but then, I shall judge away! With that in mind, I push all thoughts of throwing the boomwhackers over the balcony out of my head, breathe in deeply and tune in to the instructions and the guy in the middle of the circle flapping his arms. No judging. He gives a tempo and tells us to follow, to feel the music to just join in. He counts a beat and I shut my eyes tightly, I can’t bear to look even if I have no choice but to listen. A bunch of moms who are not musicians are going to bang these tremendous boomwhackers, and this is not going to sound pretty. However, I said no judging (yet!) so with my eyes squeezed shut and my friend giggling away at my side, I counted the tempo and joined in.

 I forgot that when your eyes are closed, your sense of hearing increases. However, even with my increased hearing, I was surprised to hear an in sync pleasant rhythm. Pleasant! I hesitatingly opened one of my eyes. Interesting. As Rick continued to guide us in the art of boomwhackers and drums, triangles and tambourines I again felt apprehensive, with all of these different instruments that none of us know how to play, we were going to attempt to create music, I was doubtful. Again, Rick gave us a few tips, tempos and a rhythm, again I squeezed my eyes shut, but this time I wasn’t as apprehensive as before. When I opened my eyes and joined the tempo with my drum I was amazed once again by how good we sounded together! 

At one point I took the red line out of my imaginary notes that said drum circle and a little while letter I took the words “drum circle” in my head and turned them into bold letters. I was laughing and banging along with the rest of my Chai Lifeline mom friends in a symphony that is hard to describe. Not only because of the wind, but I truly felt “blown away,” at our ability to beat out meaningful music with little more than our simple instruments and our deep hearts.

 In a stunningly unexpected form of mindfulness, the beautiful music drowned everything else out, forcing us to stay fully present and focus on the here and now, all challenges aside, as we swayed to the beat. Towards the end, I put my boomwhacker/stick/drum thing down and just closed my eyes. Not out of fear, this time it was to fully appreciate, the different backgrounds, the lack of musical training, the sheer joy and release of energy, and the heartfelt music that we were somehow creating together, in this magical evening, one boomwhacker at a time. 

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