Who is organizing this Drum Retreat?

Our organizing team is an ad-hoc group of women drummers committed to spreading the joy of drumming to others.

We came together to produce this event and we are so excited to be manifesting this vision.

The women’s drumming community is growing! All of our organizers have connections to women’s djembe drumming performing ensembles. One of our goals is to connect these communities, giving an opportunity for different groups of women from various geographic areas to come together to meet and share the love of the drum. The location for the Women’s Drum Retreat was chosen due to nearly equal proximity to at least three locations that boast a strong women’s drumming and performing groups.

If you have suggestions or ideas, or are interested in offering a class or workshop at the event, please contact us at the email address above. THANK YOU!

Bumbada in PA

Bele Bele Rhythm Collective in Washington DC area

Ubaka Hill’s Drumsong Orchestra of the Hudson Valley, in NY

Tammi Hessen is a Lancaster, PA-based drummer and percussionist who has been studying in the West African hand drum tradition of djembe/dununs, and continues to discover and celebrate the nature and power of the drum as a musical instrument and tool for joy, transformation, and personal and community healing. She teaches and performs, and believes that drumming can unite people from the inside –out. She has traveled to Africa to study drumming, and has studied with numerous teachers in the US. Tammi began teaching drumming classes in Baltimore Maryland in 2003, and continues to teach in the PA area. She also plays percussion with local musicians such as Bobbi Carmitchell and has recorded with Ubaka Hill. Tammi has performed at local and national festivals, produced ongoing weekend drumming retreats, organized festivals, and composed music on her drums and steel pan (which was her first love). She is an adjunct professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster PA where she directs the college’s African Drumming Ensemble and gives private lessons. You can contact Tammi directly for more information about the ongoing drumming classes in Baltimore, Lancaster, York, Reading, and Harrisburg Pennsylvania area, and for private lessons.

Kristen Arant is a percussionist, oboist, vocalist, teaching artist and activist living and working in the Washington, DC region. Originally a classically-trained oboe player with a degree in music, she began her drumming career upon moving to Washington DC (from her hometown of St Louis, Missouri) in 2000, at which point she helped initiate the activist drumming ensemble Rhythm Workers Union, known for its hand-built drum cart the “MotherDrumShip,” and its legions of drummers who created a spectacle at hundreds of protests, rallies and events through 2007. Enthralled by the healing and unifying power of the Djembe drum, Kristen began to study West African drumming in 2002. She has since spent time with master drummers and teachers such as Baile McKnight, Mamady Keita , Tammi Hessen, Jaqui MacMillan, Ubaka Hill and Monette Marino.

Kate Fox lives in the Hudson Valley of NY and is an activist, drummer, teacher and independent K-12 school leader. She is an environmental educator and operated an outdoor summer nature camp for over two decades. She is a trained group facilitator with experience in group process, especially circle processes and consensus. She is a co-founder of The Birch School, a values-based microschool, where she is the Director and English teacher for middle and high school students. She developed a strong love of the djembe drum after being introduced to the Djembe at an outdoor skills workshop in 2007. She studied with Maxwell Kofi Donkor, Ghanian teacher in the Hudson Valley and leader of the Drum and Dance Performance group Sankofa. Kate is an original member of Ubaka Hill’s Drumsong Orchestra, founded in March 2022 and has been studying with Ubaka Hill ever since. Kate’s intention is to broaden the community of women drummers, and specifically celebrate and share the experience of joyful drumming in community with other women.

The Birch School, a 501©3 non-profit educational corporation in the Hudson Valley, is a sponsor of this event, spreading the love of learning and appreciation for art and culture beyond the school walls and into the larger community.

We welcome all! We use an inclusive definition of “woman” and “female” and we welcome all women who are comfortable in a space that centers the experiences of women drummers, including the history and spiritual traditions of women drumming over time.

If you are mailing a check for registration please address to WRD c/o The Birch School, 9 Vance Road, Rock Tavern, NY 12575

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