Drum making workshop is a hit with Menlo Park vets

by Linda Hubbard on April 29, 2011

About a dozen Vets living at the Menlo Park VA are now drum makers, thanks to a program put together by Beth Longwell (pictured below), a music therapist at the facility, in partnership with The Riekes Center. Today they worked on the final piece of their new instruments, the mallets, before participating in a drumming circle.

“I am always looking for new and creative ways to use music as a therapeutic tool,” said Beth.  “Instead of just having a drum circle and using pre-made drums, I wanted the Veterans to be able to create their very own instrument.  This way, they could have something to take away at the end of the workshop, and it would also encourage creativity, self-expression, and self-confidence.”

Most of the Vets had never made a drum before, but embraced the activity. “I signed up because I thought it would be a good way to meet new people, so something crafty and learn how to drum,” said Kim (pictured top), who spent four years in Germany and two in Panama with the U.S. Army.

The drums and tops of the mallets are made with deer, goat, cow and moose hide. Sewing the tips of the mallets took a fair degree of effort with some vets using thimbles and others using pieces of hide to help propel the needle and thread.

“Music therapy is all about using music in healing ways, and this workshop gave Veterans the chance to say ‘wow, look what I just made.  Maybe I can do more than I thought.’ The feedback so far is that they are really enjoyed the hands on aspect of the drum creation. The workshop has brought back memories of past musical experiences as well.”



kerri childress May 03, 2011 at 12:58 pm

What a wonderful story — love the idea of music for therapy. Way to go VA and thank you Linda for the great article.

Patricia November 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I was interested in drum making. Could you tell me when you are having another drum making class. I live in Hayward. Menlo Park is not far from me.
I’ve been looking for a class like this.
Thanks so much.
Patricia Merritt-Smith

Rebecca November 19, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Beth, this is AWESOME! What great work you are going!

Comments are closed.


Please help support InMenlo! Your contribution will help us continue to bring InMenlo to you. Click on the button below to contribute!