My latest project at the Chittenden Correctional Facility is designing a drumming & mindfulness pilot program for the incarcerated women.
Ask me if I knew A THING about the difference between a snare or tenor drum when we began in January, or even how to hold a pair of hickory drumsticks? The answer then was a resounding, NO!”
Yet under the skilled mentorship of Berklee College of Music-trained drummer Sue Schmidt, of Burlington, we are halfway through an 8-week program, learning how to play our individual parts while simultaneously becoming a unified drumline. (Sounds like an important metaphor for life, huh?!)
The 16 women participants were identified by correctional officers for this innovative Vermont Works for Women program.
The program, called “Flying Sticks: Drumming and Stress Reduction,” aims to provide a healthy avenue for women (who struggle with aggressive behavior) to burn off stress and anxiety through drumming, as well as to engage in healthy communal activity with other inmates.
The 90-minute sessions are bookended with stress reduction techniques such as yoga & stretching, breathing, meditation, visualization, and listening to the words of inspirational writers and thinkers.
I, myself, facilitate these calming segments as a long-time student of mindfulness practice.
It’s an attempt to help inmates focus on the present moment, be connected to their own bodies, and learn how to regulate thoughts and emotions that sometimes feel way out of control.
We are extremely EXCITED about this program and most grateful to the Sultana Group for its sponsorship support. Much more to come…