Bob Bloom’s Drumming About You
By Christine R. Walsh
Bob Bloom of Drumming About You loves nothing more than bringing his passion for percussion instruments to schools, libraries, museums and elder care facilities. And within minutes of experiencing one of Bloom’s interactive drumming programs, just about everyone in the room is tapping a drum or humming along.
“I call it a drum ride,” Bloom explains, focusing on his work with his older audience members. “There’s a lot of spontaneity to it. We’re not just hitting the drums, I sing too. That creates a melody and even sometimes a harmony because you have the elders singing along. Next comes least four different kinds of instruments. Everybody gets the same kind of instrument at the same time. And I’m singing music that they recognize like Chuck Berry or the Beatles.”
According to Bloom, some of his favorite moments are when the staffs of the elder care centers get involved with the activities. After a few songs, they’ll start dancing and singing with an elder and a whole new energy is created. People leave the experience full of life, smiling from ear to ear.
“One of the benefits of drum rides is that the participants are DOING it, not just watching,” Bloom points out. “They might not be able to get all of the beats perfectly, but they’re trying. Even if they can just move their hands a little bit.”
Bloom has loved drumming since he was very young, first playing in school bands as a youth and then rock and roll bands as a teen. He became deeply involved in the corporate world, first working as a manufacturer’s representative for major companies including Panasonic and Toshiba. The position segued into employment as a national accounts manager for a company that sold musical instruments to non-musical stores. But about nine months into the job, he was told by his boss that the company could no longer fund his position and Bloom was let go.
“At that point and time, I was doing interactive drumming, part time,” Bloom remembers. “I was going into schools every so often, but then I decided to have a safety net. I said, ‘If I don’t go for this now, it ain’t ever going to come around again!’”
The future is full of promise for Bloom ~ who is certified as a Master Teaching Artist and who served from 2007 to 2010 as chair of the Interactive Drumming Committee of The Percussive Arts Society, the largest percussion organization in the world ~ and for Drumming About You. With the large Baby Boomer population retiring soon, he feels that there will be even more opportunities to share the joys and health benefits of interactive drumming.
“The number of senior citizens is going to increase dramatically in the next few years. And a lot of them want to be active,” Bloom predicts. “I think that involving elders in the arts, especially long-term projects, keeps them active and excited. Arts are great ~ they encourage people to socialize, set goals… and it keeps them out of isolation.”
For more information, including the times Bob will be leading drum rides for American Health Resources at upcoming eldercare conventions at the DCU in Worcester (October 18) and at the Basketball Hall of Fame (November 3), visit www.drumming-about-you.com.
Photo: senior participants at one of Bob’s drumming workshops