Since being involved in permaculture way back in 1995, permaculture gatherings came with a reasonable amount of drumming and chanting. There seemed to be a need amongst some participants to incorporate music and dance into the gatherings. Typically, the daytime would be taken up with presentations and demonstrations. As nighttime approached and after mealtime, out came the drums. I often thought this was an unnecessary part of permaculture gatherings. Something to be tolerated rather than enjoyed.
All those years back, I hadn’t realised how important music was to people attending the gathering. That permaculture was not just about learning to be a better technician but being part of a community. It turns out that music is the glue which binds our spirits and compels us to be part of a wider community.
Jonica Newby (Newby, 2016), on ABC’s Catalyst, investigates the power of music to bring back the memories of Alzheimer patients and the coordination to Parkinson’s sufferers. It is really a story about how music plays a central role in tying us to our personal history across time and connecting us to each other as a society.
Newby also discusses theories that human communication developed through a combination of sound and words. Over time, these forms of communication split to become language and music. While language is predominantly about the expression of ideas, music goes to our deepest emotions. The research Newby reveals indicates that the brain increases its dopamine production when stimulated by music. That must explain how even individuals afflicted with Alziemers (Dickerson, 2016) can perform musically at a high level, yet need the protection of an aged care facility for obtaining basic human needs.
Educators also know intuitively that music can be a stimulating influence in the classroom. Research (Brewer, 1995) has long provided the evidence for integrating music into pedagogy. But, it appears it is equally appropriate in adult learning and for bringing communities together.
So next permaculture gathering, when sunset approaches, let the drumming begin…
Newby, J, (2016, 8 March) Music on the brain, ABC Catalyst, retrieved from: http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4421003.htm
Dickerson, A (2016, 7 January) Thanks to strangers, a 95 year old man gets his wish to play jazz again. Retrieved from: http://kindakind.com/thanks-to-strangers-a-95-year-old-gets-his-wish-to-play-jazz-again/
Brewer, C (1995) Music and learning: Integrating music in the classroom. Retrieved from: http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/Arts%20in%20Education/brewer.htm