Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Hand Drum

GSCT Logo on Hand Drum

Indigenous people refer to the drum as the heartbeat of Mother Earth.  It is used in spiritual and sacred practices.  I have always wanted to make my own hand drum and was excited to have the opportunity to make one with my students at Great Spirit Circle Trail in M'Chigeeng.  

When we first arrived at GCST, we participated in a smudging ceremony led by our facilitator, Craig. Smudging involves the burning of tobacco, sage, sweetgrass, and cedar.  We first cleansed our hands with the smoke as though we were washing our hands.  We then drew the smoke to our heads, eyes, ears, mouths, and our body.  The purpose was to remind us to think good thoughts, see good actions, hear and speak good words, and to show the good of who we are.  Participation in the smudging ceremony was voluntary.  

Four Sacred Medicines: Cedar, Sage, Sweetgrass, and Tobacco
Craig shared the story of the drum.  A similar story can be found at Sheshegwaning Women's Hand Drum Singers.  

GSCT provided students with a wood frame, deer hide in a circular shape with pre-punched holes, and a long string of hide.  The hide had been soaking in water for a couple of hours to make it easy to work with.  Students were instructed to place the circular hide onto the frame.

Students then attached the hide to the frame by stinging the long skinny pieces of hide through the pre-punched holes.  It was a lot more difficult than it sounds.  Several students had to restart the process a couple of times.  

The hide string needed to be tightened up.  This took long for some and they had to add water to keep the hide from getting to dry and difficult to work with.

When the hide string was tight, students wrapped the remaining hide around to create a handle.  Balance was important in wrapping the hide to make the handle.  The string of hide is left to be cut during the birthing ceremony.

The drum is complete, but needs to dry for atleast four days.

Learning about the drum and constructing it was an amazing experience.  The students were very proud of themselves and eager to share what they learned with others.  

 A student sharing what he learned with others when we returned to school.

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