Dr. Vermillion practicing with his class for their drum circle.
(Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON)

ST. CLOUD - The world drumming group at St. Cloud State University is working on their drumming circle to help people relax. Last semester they hosted a relaxation chamber, which gave students a chance to sit down, breathe, and meditate. Dr. Terry Vermillion got the idea from watching a percussionist duo perform at a spa in Switzerland.

He says, "I decided as part of the world drumming group let’s experiment in the classroom with creating this kind of environment and talking a little bit about therapy and drumming, and sound as therapy, and this is a growing conversation on our campus but also nationally that music therapy is a growing field."

This semester Dr. Vermillion’s class are preparing themselves to lead a drum circle for other students at St. Cloud State.

"They’ll be able to put together all of the things they've learned throughout the semester into an activity," says Vermillion, "They will be responsible for starting and stopping, for running the drum circle, giving instructions, giving encouragement, shaping the experience basically."

The students improvise on drums, chimes, bowls, and gongs to create an experience, which allows listeners to meditate, and clear their mind. Vermillion says the students are currently experimenting to figure out what works, and what doesn't work when they play together.

At the end of the semester the students will receive a certificate stating they have completed stage one of becoming a drum circle facilitator.

The class is also a step towards bring a music therapy program to St. Cloud.

Vermillion says, "(St. Cloud State University) is actively engaged in seeking out opportunities for new and developing programs. Music therapy is currently offered at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College, both of those are private institutions with very expensive tuition. For St. Cloud State University to develop a Bachelor of Arts degree, with emphasis in music therapy, would provide at a very reasonable cost, at a state institution, a music therapy degree program."

They are hoping to have the program running by fall of 2016.

One of the bowls the class uses during the drum circle.
(Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON)
The students sit in the drum circle to experience the music.
(Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON)