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Drum Circles in the Workplace


Drumming for Wellness

Orange County CA Drum Circles for Workplace Wellness, Teambuilding, Icebreakers, and Stress Reduction

Today in Orange County, California, drum circles are being used to boost wellness, employee engagement, productivity, and stress reduction in the workplace.

In fact, the same health challenges that affect employees at home, often affect them at work. And this can affect productivity, creativity, and problem solving abilities at work. One Orange County engineering firm recognized this, and sought out a drum circle wellness program for their workplace. What they didn’t know, was that drumming is one of the best activities for wellness and employee engagement in the workplace, as it helps to activate key centers of the brain which improve mental focus at work. Drum circles also help physical health thru movement during play. We captured some of this on video recently.

In the video, what you don't see is staff's patience and willingness to trust instruction to bring what began as four bells, into a fully synchronized drum circle rhythm. In life and work, innovation often comes when you trust your instincts, and work together. This eight minute rhythm began with four gongo bells in a pattern with two senior partners of the firm. Next, hand drums, sound shapes, and small percussion were incrementally brought in to support the bells, and then there was a fully supported drum circle rhythm. The video only captured the final two minutes. The twenty or so employees who attended became highly engaged, creative, and they found a big boost in energy. It was exactly what their wellness program manager was looking for.


For full article on our blog, click on image below:















Most of us have some physical or other ailment that can also affect us at work, albeit a back problem, acid reflux disorder, migraine, learning disability, or addiction disorder. These challenges can be with us 24/7. Workplace wellness programs today are designed to help manage these health challenges while at work, as poor health at work can limit physical stamina and productivity.

Stephen Dolle, Drum Circle Facilitator and Neuroscientist

Stephen Dolle is the founder of Dolle Communications and puts on drum circles and workshops throughout the Greater Orange County & Los Angeles area. He also offers companies tips on employee engagement and workplace productivity. He’s seen a lot of challenges in his time made more manageable with drum circles and group activities. He says what makes drum circles so unique, is that they affect both the brain and body, and that the sound and vibration of the instruments acts as calming medicine on your (stressed out) brain. This result is a happier, more engaged, and physically connected employee more able to deal with the challenges of the workplace. And Dolle knows a few things about challenges! He’s lived with a CNS shunt for the disorder, hydrocephalus, since 1992. It was his personal experience that first led him to becoming a neuroscientist, and then drum circle facilitator.

Stephen also has several startups under his belt, including, DiaCeph Inc., a startup for his 1997 design of an mHealth app (the DiaCeph Test) for hydrocephalus, Certified Nuclear Imaging (CNI) which serviced more than 50 OC/LA area hospitals between 1982 and 1992. He founded Dolle Communications in 2004 to focus in the neurosciences and drumming (drum circles).

CNI presented Stephen an opportunity to work with a vast array of medical instrumentation challenges that at times were so overwhelming they led to nightmares. Eventually, he developed methods that allowed him to excel in solving complex technical and medical problems. It enabled him to become highly productive in performing nuclear medicine procedures, and adept at developing new business. As a contractor, many workplace particulars did not apply to him. So, he became astute in client workplace challenges, and often advised hospitals and imaging centers on HR and medical instrumentation matters. And wrote a few papers on the subject. He later raised money and helped organize sports and entertainment events, often under demanding conditions.

He says most work challenges today are about optimizing one's energy, mental focus, and cognitive focus over a period of a day, or days. It is the few, the exception, he says who are truly able to master the challenges of a work day. Workplace wellness transcends more than attendance at work. It is about sustaining your work productivity over the course of many days and weeks when the demands become excessive.

Your key to workplace productivity is “employee engagement,“ or staying effectively involved and “entrained” in what is happening around you. In order to excel in your work and ascend to higher levels at your company, you need to develop high level cognitive learning skills that will allow you to exert more control over your brain wave states, cognition, and mental focus. Stephen Dolle’s business card even reads:

Engage the Rhythms of your Brain

Today there are a variety of workplace learning methods to help you better address the demands of your work day. Here are three additional web pages of information on our drum circles, including, information on the brain science of drum circles. Further below is more detailed information on the brain science of drumming.

Information on our Drum Circle Facilitation:

Drum Circles for Wellness: Recognized by the CDC:

What is a Drum Circle?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines “workplace wellness” as a health promotion activity or organization-wide policy designed to support healthy behavior and improve health outcomes while at work. They report that these programs should consist of activities such as health education and coaching, weight management programs, medical screenings, on-site fitness programs, and more.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Notwithstanding your employee having a complex health problem, we believe the biggest challenge to work productivity remains "employee engagement," and having the necessary focus to do your job well. This means that the real challenge at work, is more mental, than physical. So, solutions to address this, need be more about mental stamina, flexibility, brain health, and cognition, and that is our focus at Dolle Communications.

As to general health and workplace wellness, there are a number of organizations that provide employee health services as  recommended by the CDC. The CDC also offers a free worksite health score card and other materials for implementing a health promotion program in your workplace.

Worksite Health Score Card

The Concentra company is an example of a company that offers health program consulting designed to encourage healthier lifestyle behavior in employees, and reduce health care spending. A successful wellness program they claim can benefit employers by developing and maintaining a healthier, more productive workforce and community.

Concentra workplace wellness

We argue that the two most important things you can undertake for good health and productivity at work: is 1) proper hydration with 6-8 8oz.glasses of water each day, and 2) moving about physically during the day. You should implement these practices at home too. These two simple steps help to keep blood flowing and deliver oxygen and nutrients in your body, and to your brain too. These two practices will go a long way towards maintaining proper health, and are the "core" of all wellness programs.

As a company involved in workplace wellness, Dolle Communications provides drum circle facilitation and offers tips on employee engagement and workplace productivity in the greater Orange County, CA, area. We provide all of the necessary instruments and materials for your drum circle, and we can facilitate a variety of drum circle classes and workshops at your place of business or other desired location. Our events are often creative, and inspire leadership in your staff.

Our workplace focus and research has been with “brain waves” and "brain wave entrainment," and we've been employing these methods in our drum circles since 2010. You normally change between alpha and beta brain wave states during our normal day. But certain tasks are better performed in particular brain wave states. Naturally, our brains tire, and we become stresses and distracted during the work day. Your challenge is learning to transition your brain wave states, and resulting cognitive focus, to different states to overcome these challenges and sustain engagement.

For instance, if you are reading a slow moving book or working on a tedious problem, you may want to be in a slower, more introspective, alpha brain wave state. But if you are tackling a multi-faceted project or working with a team of people, you may be better served by transitioning to a faster more attentive beta brain state.

There are a variety of techniques to help you transition between brain wave states. Group drumming, or drum circles, is one of the best as it utilizes auditory driving, brain wave entrainment, and body kinesthetics. Rhythmic movement of the body during instrument play engages the body's kinesthetics, and this helps you sustain mental focus via your body's "proprioception" or muscle memory. But proprioception of rhythmic movement does even more, it aids your brain in cognition by helping sustain cognitive focus. This is why you often perform better at cognitive tasks when tapping out a rhythmic pattern with your hand or foot. In addition to the other brain and cognition benefits, group drumming enables a group of people to achieve group "brain wave entrainment," where the brain waves and consciousness of the entire group begins to act alike. This is helpful in boosting team productivity. Kinesthetic benefits also occurs in tai chi, yoga, and many exercises.

Group brain wave entrainment in drumming allows “entrainment” by a group to a rhythm played over 5-10 minutes. If sustained, members will “entrain” to a common brain wave pattern, and intent message. Rhythms vary from slow to fast, from primal to contemporary, corresponding to activation of hindbrain vs frontal lobe function. This principle is why you should not listen to contemporary music while meditating, as it activates memories that awaken your frontal lobe, and this will keep you from going into breath entrainment with your hindbrain.

Sports teams commonly use entrainment to boost attentiveness and connectedness on the field or court. It allows you to better anticipate your team mate's actions. Another example of entrainment is in women who work or live together, develop syncopation of their menstrual cycles. Rioting is yet another example of group entrainment, though is based on negative thought and intent. Entrainment occurs in animals too, and is widely used in pack hunting. Entrainment occurs more often in real life than you might think.

There has been quite a bit of recent research with drumming and brain wave entrainment, which has led to drumming being used more often in stress reduction, cancer therapy, and treatment of chronic illness. 

Stephen Dolle lectured on brain wave entrainment and “trance states” in STEM3 education at Wright State University in 2011. And he's authored several important power point presentations that can be found on He notes that trance states are the highest cognitive state you can attain today, and is seen in drumming, meditation, mindfulness, fasting, and other disciplines. Trance states could someday bring amazing new expert proficiencies to a variety of occupations. As an individual and employee, your workplace goal should be in raising productivity, and learning to better shift between alpha and beta brain wave states for optimum engagement and learning.


Drumming with Basketball

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, you find we've created Drumming with Basketball for mindfulness and team communications on the basketball court. We authored an in-depth blog on basketball (June 2015) plus host basic content on drumming with basketball the web page above.

Full Basketball Article on DolleCommunications Blog





Rhythm and the Brain Project – A Gazzaley – Hart Collaboration

Perhaps some of the most exciting brain research being done today in drumming & rhythm is at the Gazzaley Lab up at the University of California San Francisco, in collaboration with the Grateful Dead’s long time drummer, Mickey Hart.

The Gazzaley Project is described as “Unlocking the power of rhythm to understand and enhance brain function.” Rhythm is a fundamental aspect of the universe at every level, and serves as a critical foundation for life on this planet.

The goal of this project is to advance an understanding of rhythm in higher-order brain function and how we can influence brain rhythms through novel interventions like neuromodulation, rhythm training, video games, and neurofeedback. The ultimate goal is to improve cognition and mood in the healthy and impaired, and positively impact quality of our life.

This is Your Brain on Rhythm: Where Freud, Nas, the Grateful Dead and Neuroscience Meet

Here is a yet another fun related article about rhythm and the brain.



Ten Reasons to Drum for Your Health

This last article is by author Dave Robertson on the top ten (10) reasons why you should play in drum circles. No. 5 is perhaps most identifiable with drumming in the workplace.





12 Companies With Seriously Impressive Corporate Wellness Programs

As for trends in workplace wellness, the article below presents a list of 12 U.S. companies with impressive workplace wellness programs. The list includes IBM, Aetna, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Virgin, Google, American Express, Johnson & Johnson among others. I am unsure on their standing with drum circles, however.


Scheduling of Drum Circles & Workshops

To schedule a drum circle or workshop, contact Stephen Dolle per the contact information below. Please also complete and fax/email this Drum Circle Facilitation Client & Deposit Agreement. You may also make payments and deposits via our PayPal link below. If you need to speak with me, send me an email with your phone number and I will call you back. As of February 28, 2018, I no longer have my separate home office telephone.

Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com


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