And the Beat Goes On

July 11, 2014
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Dorothy Sikora, drum facilitator, offers a beat during a monday night drum circle in Sea Bright.

Dorothy Sikora, drum facilitator, offers a beat during a monday night drum circle in Sea Bright.

SEA BRIGHT – Under a setting red sun with a warm summer’s breeze, a joyous beat fills the air as a small community comes together to bang the drums again.

The rhythm is not just soothing but also offers many other benefits, drummers say.

Just ask those who gather Monday nights on the borough’s beach boardwalk area. There they spend an hour or more in a joyful collective, beating different drums and sending the sounds over the sands to the surf.

“The sound we produce is unbelievable, wondrous,” said Stan Nazimek, as he began getting into the groove for the weekly community drum circle.

Nazimek, a semiretired West Long Branch resident, has been attending the summer weekly gatherings for three years. He began after someone recommended it to him as a way to beat stress.

Nazimek, who doesn’t have a musical background, said that’s really what it does. “After a long hard day, the relaxation is not to be beat.”

Stanley Nazimek

Stanley Nazimek

The drum circle, which begins at 7 p.m. Mondays in July and August, weather permitting, has been part of the borough’s summer recreation program for eight years and is coordinated by Dorothy Sikora.

Sikora, an Oceanport resident, operates Joy of Music, a music education business, and works as a professional musician, singer and music educator. She has served as the circle’s drum facilitator since it started and has been conducting circles for 25 years.

The weekly sessions are free and open to the public; no musical ability is needed. All that is required is to simply show up, Sikora said. She has a van full of available drums of different sizes, offering different sounds.

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While the intent is primarily for recreation and fun, Sikora said there are numerous therapeutic benefits that come with hitting the skins.

“A lot of the time drumming can relieve stress,” she said, noting that it stimulates the release of endorphins, helping quell stress.

Drumming is also a good way to get some cardio exercise, she said. It can burn up more calories, about 9 per minute, more than walking on a treadmill. On top of that, it allows the drummer to integrate activity in both the right and left parts of the brain, she said.

“People who’ve had a hard day at the work, it’s great to come and play on the drums.”

The activity also creates community and can have a subtle spiritual component, said Sikora, who is a music minister at the Fair Haven United Methodist Church.

“You’re here on the beach with other like-minded people, usually with a beautiful breeze and a lovely sunset,” she said. “All of that is very therapeutic.”

Drumming has been used by medical professionals treating cancer and Alzheimer’s disease patients, for educational purposes for children and even has been adopted by large corporations as part of team-building activities, Sikora said.

Scott and Jessica Rothman saw a sign advertising the drum circle and decided to bring their three young children and give it a try. The Rothmans, who live in Short Hills, are vacationing in Monmouth Beach. “It gets (the kids) out of the house,” said Jessica Rothman.

While the children were tentative at first, they then seemed to get into it as Sikora led the group and quickened the pace.

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Herb Moore of Rumson, curious about what was going on, wandered over to the activity after hearing drumbeats. “I heard it and it sounded cool,” he said.

“I love music. I guess you could call this music, right?” he said as he listened to the beats.

Calling the activity a drum circle seemed a bit of a misnomer. In addition to drums, Sikora offered participants tambourines, cowbells and maracas while she played an amadinda, a wooden African instrument, much like a xylophone.

As he listened, Moore seemed to overcome his reluctance and selected a cabasa, a beaded percussion instrument, and tentatively joined the group. “OK, I’m in,” he said, adding that he might just return for another session.

The first drum circle of the summer in Sea Bright attracted about 25 people. That’s about average though some nights as many as 40 attend, Sikora said.

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