What will I learn at a DCM course?

DCM is a holistic approach to creating and facilitating music-based experiences for groups.

Training courses provide everything you need to create a music facilitation business or take your business to the next level. Participants include first-time music makers to professional musicians and everything in between. Because there are so many aspects to creating and presenting all types of experiences for groups, there's always something to learn. We often see repeat students because each course is unique and students often seek greater challenges year after year.

Some of the things you will learn

Drum Circle Facilitation

A drum circle is a type of Community Drumming–a musical jam session where participants co-create music and focus on community values.  Drum circles are entry-level musical experiences that help people play together and have fun. The DCM approach to drum circle facilitation is about:

  • encouraging self-expression, exploration, and fun.
  • helping every participant feel included, valued, and important.
  • using non-invasive techniques to keep the focus on the participants.
  • helping people make personal connections and kindle friendships.
  • empowering people to create an experience that reflects their values.
photo of a drum circle

A community drum circle with families and friends

Click here to learn about Drum Circle Facilitation.

Musical Games

A Musical Game is any music-based activity that features "play rules" or  instructions that shape the experience. Think of any game that you play. You might play with specific objects and/or boundaries . There is almost always a set of rules that everyone has to follow. Musical Games are similar. They are useful for guiding people towards certain ways of relating to each other and helping people work together while maintaining a certain degree of structure. Structure is one way to create feelings of safety within an experience. There are MANY musical games taught in DCM programs. Some people use them for working with children. Others use them for working with corporate team building clients. You can use them however you want!

Musical Games:

  • focused on play outcomes, rather than music outcomes.
  • are easy entry points for music making.
  • outcome oriented activities, rather than improvisations.
  • useful as cooperative activities and to create metaphors.
  • often less challenging than playing music.
Click here to learn some musical games.


Playing along to a familiar song is a fun and comfortable experience. A Drum-A-Long uses songs as a musical guide for group drumming. Leaders use songs and popular melodies to encourage participation. People play a variety of drums and percussion instruments, often accenting the music and generally following the song structure. Songs provide opportunities for both improvisation and unity. Because most people will already know the song, playing along is easy and comfortable.


  • Provide a familiar musical setting for participation
  • Give opportunities for both free-form and synchronized participation.
  • Encourage singing and general musicality.
  • Are a popular form of music making in educational and therapeutic settings.
  • Can be used to reach goals in areas such as education, socialization, or self expression.
Click here to learn some fantastic Drum-A-Long songs.

Guided Interactive Drumming

Guided Interactive Drumming is a directed and structured form of group drumming. Activities often involve teaching specific musical responses to cues that are provided by the leader(s). The process includes "call & response" or echoing specific rhythms, chants, and musical phrases. Participants are guided through a series of steps in order to reach a pre-planned outcome, such as playing specific rhythms or performing a piece of music. Interactive Drumming activities are:

  • "top-down" and directed by the leader(s), rather than co-created.
  • suited for populations who require structure and guidance.
  • often based in drumming traditions, such as those from West Africa or Brazil.
  • make use of "synchronized play" (everyone plays the same response or rhythms) rather than everyone doing their own thing.
  • generally not improvised, but may include some input from the group.
  • often used to promote a sense unity, power, and excitement.
Click here to learn more about Interactive Drumming.

Therapeutic Music Making

heart-shaped-shell-on-the-beach-with-shadowThere is growing interest in learning to design and facilitate musical experiences that are therapeutic in nature. We believe that music carries great potential for use as a therapeutic tool. We are pleased to include sessions on therapeutic music making for those individuals interested in using drumming, singing, and other forms of music making as a tool for therapeutic outcomes.

Therapeutic music making can be a useful tool for persons with a range of conditions involving sleep, mood, anger, grief, energy level, nervousness, anxiety, and more. Some examples of therapeutic music making include: playing drums and percussion instruments to help increase presence and mindfulness; using drumming to increase feelings of social and spiritual connection; singing as a means of self-expression; improvisation and composition as a means to reduce anxiety and worry; humming, toning, and chanting to increase feelings of spiritual connection and to increase oxygen levels in the body. Drumming to release stored emotions and reduce tension caused by worry and regrets.

Read an article on Therapeutic Music Making

Native American Flute

DCM participants enjoy learning how to play the Native American Flute among other melodic instruments. The NA Flute is an accessible instrument that allows anyone to play beautiful melodies with a pleasing tone. This component of the DCM course is based on the Healing Flute Program, a 2-CD set that enables anyone to use the flute as a tool for self-expression and personal healing. Flutes are provided and available for purchase at discounted rates. Flute play is complemented with other beautiful and accessible instruments, such as the HAPI drum, Ukulele, Tongue Drum (slit drum), and Kalimba.

Flutes help to:

  • Give people an easy way to produce a beautiful melody.
  • Add a melodic and harmonic elements to group drumming.
  • Produce sounds that are pleasing to the ear.
  • Create a connection between the music and the breath (body).
  • Provide an enjoyable way to play music by yourself or with others.

Native American Flute Class

Click here to learn about the flute.

Ukulele & Song Leading

Kala Ukulele

Group singing has a long history and is by far the most common form of community music making. Songs may be traditional,

popular, or improvised and are shaped by the participants with the help of the facilitator. Song leaning is an important part of most music-based programs because it provides a way for participants to verbally express thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Many songs have special meaning to participants and can impart a sense of pride, unity and belonging. Songs are also important teaching tools in most cultures, presenting ideas, concepts, lessons, and folklore as part of the verbal tradition.

Song Leading helps to:

  • bring a community together through a shared experience.
  • give a voice to the group.
  • pass along lessons, stories, and folklore.
  • Learn popular songs.
  • provide a connection to the breath and body.
  • improve a person's expressive voice.
  • complement instrumental play and dance.

As part of the Song Leading component of DCM, students learn basic techniques on the ukulele. The Ukulele is a use-friendly, accessible instrument that helps support group singing. The Ukulele has a long history in community music making and in recent years, has enjoyed increased popularity throughout the world over. DCM Participants may also choose to learn to play the Native American-style Flute.

Click here to learn songs right now.

Instrument Building

Create something special during your DCM experience. Michel Hardbarger will show you how to create a variety of homemade percussion instruments using natural and found materials. Michel is an elementary music teacher with a passion for the great outdoors. In addition to helping you create musical instruments, Michel often leads nature walks in the mornings and afternoons. The grounds at the Holy Spirit Retreat Center offer an abundance of beautiful places to walk, sit, mediate, and talk. You will gain inspiration from the many birds and critters who share this beautiful landscape. All materials and tools are provided by Michel. Just bring your creativity and playful spirit.

Instrument Building with Michel

Click here to learn how to make eight homemade instruments.

Laughter Yoga

Laughter promotes deep breathing, camaraderie, and a general sense of well being. Laugher exercises are led experiences that encourage participants to laugh for no reason (except to feel better). Laughter exercises are designed to be playful, engaging experiences that often lead to authentic laughter. Studies are beginning to show measurable health benefits from engaging in laughter on a frequent basis. Laughing tends to help people:

  • feel more energized.
  • gain a greater sense of community.
  • bond with their peers.
  • let down their guard.
  • increase their capacity for laughter.
  • feel more joyful.

DCM uses laughter experiences developed and popularized by Indian Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga International. Kalani is a certified Laughter Yoga Teacher (LYT) who has studied with Dr. Kataria. Laughter exercises are accessible to people of all ages and cultures. Laughter is a key component in the DCM approach and integrates with singing, dancing, and play of all kinds.

Laughing Together

LaughMaster Bill Lewis with Margaret.

Click here to find out about the benefits of laughter.

Group Discussion Techniques

Drum Circle FacilitationWhat happens when the music stops and you need to lead a discussion? Melanie Campbell, RN and Council Specialist, is presenting a special session in the art of facilitating group discussion. Melanie has years of experience and is creating a special resource for DCM participants who want to learn how to effectively lead group discussions for all types of groups. These skills are especially useful for: youth groups, adults in addiction, cancer survivor groups, people living with cancer, older adults, support groups, and more.

Other DCM Happenings

Jamming in the courtyard

Taking time to jam in the courtyard.

Developmental Community Music

Dining at the Holy Spirit Retreat Center

Group Scarves

Community movement and music with scarves

Small Group Sculpture

A small group makes connections.

We believe that MUSIC is HEALTHY

We believe that MUSIC is a BIRTHRIGHT

We believe that MUSIC is NEEDED

We believe that YOU can HELP



What's NEW in 2014?

The Theme: Music for Healing

This program will help new and experienced facilitators of all kinds to re-visit facilitation from multiple perspectives, strengthening their foundation, and building outward into new areas and insights.

Listen to Kalani discuss each of the eight facilitator qualities in a new audio series on the KALANI LIVE Podcast.

Subscribe to KALANI Live on iTunes or listen now on

I'm ready for DCM!

DCM is proud to have support from the following Companies