Beat a drum and feel the many benefits

There’s more to African drumming than making music according to members of a community group.

Wakefield Djembe Circle meets once a week at the Cathedral Centre on Westmorland Street.

Wakefield Djembe Drumming Group getting ready to perform on the tv programme Songs of Praise.'w306b309

Wakefield Djembe Drumming Group getting ready to perform on the tv programme Songs of Praise.'w306b309

And members say the activity can help beat stress and break down cultural barriers.

Jacqui El Masri said joining the group, led by drumming tutor Luke Howell, has made a huge difference to her life because it gives her a break from caring for her mum who has Alzheimers.

The 51-year-old said: “I only found out about it when a lady at a spiritual workshop I was at, mentioned it in passing. It was fate. I really look forward to Tuesday nights. I didn’t really have any friends locally before I joined what with caring for mum and having lived away in Egypt for years.

“It’s a great social activity and I’m a real believer in the impact it can have on a person’s health and well-being, and the community benefits. We have members of all ages, from all backgrounds and nationalities”.

Health benefits are believed to include stress reduction, lower blood pressure, and boosting of the immune system.

Ms El Masri, of Walton Lane, Sandal, added: “We’ve had members who have said it’s helped their depression, and others who said it’s helped them stop smoking. It’s a real confidence booster too. Rhythm puts you into a trance in a good way because your body is relaxed, but your brain is alert.”

Drumming experience is not necessary. Ms El Masri added: “If you can move your hand, you can play a djembe. People don’t have to come every week. We have core members and casual ones, who just come along when they have time or feel like a session. Above all else, it really is brilliant fun.”

As well as meeting once a week, the group also performs at local and regional events.

The minimum age for members is 10, and there is no maximum age. Mrs El Masri said the activity is great for children because it encourages coordination, active listening, socialisation, self-expression and communication. It also develops teamwork skills and delivers a real sense of achievement.

For more information call Luke Howell on 0759 504 8559 or visit You can also log onto to see a video of the group in action.