“Music is the silence between the notes.”

— Claude Debussy

Yesterday was a wonderful day!  Twice, I had the opportunity to drum with friends — first in a small circle of women and later in a larger, mixed group.  I came away from each experience energized and delighted by the way we can take instruments that would have made my Mom yell, “don’t bang on that thing in the house!” and somehow weave music.

The smaller women’s group is not such a surprise.  When you have a small number of people who share many things in common, including a mutual desire to nurture growth in one another, finding a common rhythm is simple.  We all know how to listen.  We all know how to feel each other’s energy that drives the drumming and bring ourselves to a place where we express as a group what each of us brings as individuals.  It is a beautiful thing, and our beats weave a common tapestry of love and acceptance and healing.  It spills over into our time of sharing thoughts and dreams, and the sense of community we create in that time is something that follows us back to our daily lives.

What really amazes me is the way a larger group who don’t all know one another can achieve a similar result.  Imagine twenty people, each with a hand drum — or sometimes a deep-voiced one played with beaters that makes your heart vibrate when it is struck.  Any mother of small children can tell you that this could create a sort of noise that would make you cover your ears and run as fast as you could to a peaceful place.  Instead, someone begins to play; the rhythm calls out to another person and another, and each adds some notes of our own to the framework of the initial beat.  Before long, there are twenty people engaged in the spontaneous creation of music.  We played past the sunset and into the night; and from time to time, it seemed as though even the breeze joined into our rhythm as it would blow through and cool us on a warm summer night.  I found myself wondering — is our playing causing the breeze to blow, or does it set the tone for the next notes we play?

I was thinking about all of this when I awoke this morning, and then I found Debussy’s words — that “music is the silence between the notes.”

‘That’s it!’ I thought.  It isn’t that we all know just the notes to play and when to play them, it’s that we share the same silence that exists between the notes.  Our spirits — our energies — become synchronized as we play, and before long we play as though we had rehearsed our music.  It is a beautiful experience to play the music of the universe with a group of others who also honor our oneness.  The noise of the drum may capture our attention, but it is the music that holds it.