The Art of Facilitation

By Kalani • May 26th, 2013

You've probably heard the term "drum circle facilitation" and, if you've seen someone facilitate a drum circle, maybe you think of them as standing in the center of the circle giving out various commands, such as to lower the volume, start playing, and stop playing. While there are times when conducting a group of musicians might be just the right thing to do, there is a lot more to the Art of Facilitation.

In the DCM Approach to community music making, one of the ways we look at facilitation, is through the various roles we play. When working with any group, from children to older adults, we, as facilitators, can end up wearing many 'hats' throughout the process. We'll refer to these as "qualities" or "archetypes."

You can look at your own facilitation by identifying with eight common archetypes. These are shown below.

Facilitator Qualities

Notice that there are four pairs of complementary qualities:

Leader - Follower
Teacher - Student
Observer - Story Teller
Friend - Guardian

True Facilitation requires a balance between all eight qualities. We cannot expect to draw out original contributions from our participants if we are leading all the time. We also must follow their lead. We have to remember that we don't have all the answers and must sometimes (often) be student, inviting our participants to teach us. We must remember to take time to observe what is happening in the moment, so we can work with it. But we must also be able and willing to step up and talk about what happened or what will happen, taking on the story teller role. We can be a friend to our participants, providing unconditional support and acceptance, but we also have to be willing to set rules and limits, and enforce them if needed, taking on the guardian role.

Facilitation is about finding the right balance between all eight qualities, moving to the role that is needed at a specific time. There's no one-way to approach facilitating anything. It's not about moving through the roles in a specific order, creating a pre-planned experience. It's about doing what is needed, when it is needed, and not doing anything that is not needed!

I created an eight-part podcast that discusses each of the eight archetypes or qualities in detail, providing examples for each. You can listen on my website ( or on the Apple iTunes website. You can even download the entire series as a Podcast. Search for and subscribe to Kalani LIVE.

You can take your facilitation services to new heights by developing a sense for the eight Facilitator Qualities.

To learn more about The Art of  Facilitation, for Drum Circles, Music Circles, and just about any situation where facilitation is needed, visit the DCM Curriculum page to find our about the DCM Approach and DCM Leadership Courses.


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