I have a deep love for reggae music, and have wanted to learn to play some sort of hand drum since I first heard Burning Spear’s “Wadada” almost 25 years ago. Wadada is the Amharic word for love. Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, which many Rastafari consider to be Zion, a place of peace, freedom, and love. Opposite to Zion is Babylon, a place of oppression, materialistic, and evil. I mention this because it is the main theme of Rastafari music, and a theme plagues many humans, especially when it comes to organization. A home that is organized feels peaceful, free and loving. A home that is disorganized feels oppressive, materialistic, and at it’s extreme, can also feel evil. Tune in to Burning Spear’s Wadada here.
I turned 40 in February, 2021, and my birthday present to myself was an African drum (a Djembe) and drum lessons. I found a fabulous teacher, Bob Howell. We meet weekly for outdoor lessons in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. Bob is in his 70s and not only does he have an intense love for playing drums, well over 10,000 hours of experience (making him an expert), he is truly a gifted teacher. I have even been able to transfer many of the lessons I learn from Bob to my home organizing clients. In addition to taking lessons from Bob, I’ve also found a talented Rastafari drum teacher, Scott Davis, to teach me how to play one of the Nyabinghi drums, the Kette, which is a Jamaica drum. Scott lives in Northern California, so we meet virtually. The life lessons that I’ve learned from these two teachers have been invaluable.
The act of playing an instrument does wonders for your brain circuitry. During my first conversation with Bob, he told me that as soon as I started playing, the stresses of the news, Covid, and other noise from the outside world would start to melt away as I tuned more in to playing the drum. He was absolutely right. I’ve found that instead of scrolling through the news, worrying about the Pandemic and all it’s related fallout, or tuning in to someone else’s drama, I would choose to either practice my drum or listen to music that supported what I was learning. Even though I consider myself to be an organized and health conscious person, I can see my choices to support my organization and healthy lifestyle have improved even more… without me even having to think about it!
During my first lesson with Bob, I asked him how much I should practice. He told me to practice for at least 3 minutes per day. Only 3 minutes?? He told me to do 3 minutes of focused practice. This is where you practice to the point of making mistakes that are just within your reach. When you practice at this intensity, you are building myelin in your brain. When you can hover in that zone of difficulty- reaching for skills that are just out of your grasp, but not too hard (and not too easy), that’s where you’ll be the most efficient with learning and retention. Obviously I end up practicing far more than 3 minutes per day, but I like to know that even if I can only practice for 3 minutes, that’s good enough. Myelin is what wraps the circuits in your brain. It can’t be unwrapped. So if you want to create a new habit, you need to create a new circuit. When you increase your frequency activating that new circuit, it will soon become automatic.
Here are some takeaways that I’ve learned through drumming that can be applied to organizing:
There are so many more similarities between the skills I’ve learned through drumming that can be applied to organizing. Timing, body awareness, and the way two rhythms lock together are a few of the other lessons that I’m excited to share in future blog posts.
If you’re a musician, what concepts have you learned musically that can be applied to home organizing?
Please let us know in the comments!
By Jean Prominski, Certified Professional Organizer
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