Back in 2002 I met a guy named Paul Dear at a UK playshop that I was at with a group of people from Newcastle. I had helped them start a community drumming group in my role as a community development worker for the local council and had secured a grant to pay for the whole weekend..those were the days ! long gone now alas .
At the end of the weekend Paul kindly offered to come up to Newcastle ( and anywhere else that needed help) to help us with our first baby steps into the world of facilitating drum circles. So not long after, we invited him to Newcastle to run a public circle and give all of us newbies a bit of “jump time” in the circle. This was invaluable experience for us all as he was able to give us individual feedback on our efforts and we got the chance to see how it was done and how it worked in the real world as opposed to the drummer/musician world of the playshop itself. Paul was very good at helping us to relax and see the experience as one where we could have fun. He was an excellent role model in that he was quite clearly having fun himself and the jokes and humour were a great way of helping participants relax and enjoy themselves.
Also Paul’s facilitation style was very physical.. in a way.. like a mime artist or a clown – of course he learned well from the master! Paul was very keen that we remember the key central tenant of our training and that was that we were there to serve the circle – not be a ego maniac or self obsessed worrier- he helped us to use our senses and listen to what the circle needed rather than what we thought it needed. Of course we struggled with this because its a profound holistic life long learning…I’m still struggling with it!
Paul came up to Newcastle on a number of occasions and was always there for our group of aspiring DCF’s via phone or the web. Later on when I was away travelling he came and gave a refresher weekend for a our group and an introduction to DCF to some new people – this went down very well I believe. The community drum circle scene went from strength to strength for a number of years and paul was an instrumental part in helping us build that. Within months we were facilitating circles of 80-90 people and it was very inclusive- special needs groups, asylum seekers and refugees and people with mental health issues. Unfortunately after a few years a number of key people drifted more towards african centred drumming and werent as interested in facilitating DC’s. I went travelling and the scene took a break.
Recently I have had some 1 to 1 mentor experience – learning by watching – with Paul at a big circle he runs at a wonderful festival in Derbyshire every year- and we are planning to hopefully do some work together at a local festival here in the north next year. So the beat goes on ! He might not know it but I often think how would Paul react/deal with this situation? I still regularly use drum circle facilitation skills in my schools and community based drumming work, so he is my imaginary mentor even when he’s not there ! haha -sorry i know thats cheesy but it’s true 🙂
I am personally very grateful to Paul and happy to call him a friend. Good laughs, deep thoughts, actions and words in balance, a real commitment to helping others through music and to building communities one relationship at a time. Oh… and the musical tomfoolery ! A man on a journey that consciously wants to grow, learns a lot and passes it on to others on their journey, enriching both – so there is a link – a long string – between Arthur hull and Paul and us all and I am deeply happy to be a part of that ball of string.
“Ineffable” springs to mind because music and smiles say it better than any words I could use.
Thank you both.

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