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Drum Passages

By Barbara Borden


Barbara and her 75-year old Tarahumara Drum (made by the Northern Mexico Tarahumara Indian Tribe) Barbara in 2008.

This drum was a gift presented to Barbara in 1998 from artist and drum maker of The Heart Drum, B.J. Quintana. (photo by Irene Young)



Dear Readers of Catalyst

I am happy and honored to be part of The Shift Network’s upcoming Sound Healing Global Summit. As I was looking at some of my writings to share with you, I came upon the following piece that is titled “Drum Passages.” I began chronicling it during my 7th seven-year cycle at age 49.

This piece is a combination of facts and imagination… how a drummer’s life was lived, could be lived. For the last 69 years, drums have been some of my best teachers and most loyal companions. They have given me a voice and the universal language of love and joy that goes from my heartbeat to yours. I give you the raw, unedited explorations of…

Drum Passages

FROM SHAMAN WOMAN (A voice from Within)

(Original version August, 1994 — 1st revision and additions - July, 2007 — 

2nd revision and additions - August, 2019)

Regarding The Community Drum (barrel drum — first community drum received at age 50). The drum maker was the husband of a student.

It was a California oak wine barrel with a drum head on either side. 

I had a stand made so the drum could swing into different positions and be played like a Taiko Drum.

Care and Honoring

  • Sing into the drumhead
    Let the drum choose the song for the community.
  • Run hand in spiral on drumhead until hand rests in the center of drum.
  • Hold rock in opposite hand
    Place on hand resting in the center.
  • Thank and bless trees, animals, all living beings that contributed to the soul of the drum.
  • Play the drum so that all souls participating dance.

Drumbeats of the Natural Cycles


              Holds the beat close in, intimate.

              New Moon — Darkest of nights. Drumming is deep, contained, soft.

              Full Moon — Luminosity opens energetic fields. Drumming is energetic, wild, free.


              Bright Sun — Opposite of full moon. Drumming is lulling, repetitive.

              Sunset — Sacred time. Drumming is quiet, rhythms are light and airy.

              Sunrise — Drone. Not much movement in rhythms. Rolls.

(in conjunction with above night and day, sun and moon)
Drumming connects to the following elements in each season:

              Summer: Sky, ocean, water.

              Autumn: Trees, animals, thunder and lightening.

              Winter: Center of the earth, rocks, fire.

              Spring: Lyrical connection to flowers, insects, birds, air.

Solstices and equinoxes are bridges — times of transition releasing rhythms from past and calling in rhythms of new season.


Barbara playing djembe in 2010 (photo by Irene Young)


Fetal body and belly tapping.
Mother’s belly sounds, blood whooshing in and out, voice tones, and the vibrations of the heartbeat.

Infant body as drum. Light tapping, singing into, bouncing on the beat — moving and shaking!
As walks and grows into childhood…tapping, clapping, stomping, moving and shaking as daily rituals.

Natural & Found Objects as drums.
Drums of Others (with permission).
Sing/Sound Rhythms.
Percussion toys/instruments that child is attracted to.

Make own drum in a group with same-gender parent and peers.
Others in the community contribute materials for drum (jewels, beads, stones, ribbons, threads, etc.).
Play drum first with same-gender folks, then all.
Whoever is moved may gift a drum.

21-27 Years:
Exploration time. One small drum to take with you always.
A blessing when presented on your 21st birthday by beloveds.

28-30 Years:
Make a drum with skilled and reverent drum maker.
Gather all materials including tree/wood for shell, animal hide for head(s). Carve shell/tan hide if possible.
Play drum with drum maker and alone.
Play drum for new folks.
Invite other drummers, dancers, singers from this group to join in.

Use this opportunity to reflect what is coming forth from the heart. Set intentions. Align with life purpose.

30-34 Years Old:
Four years of no drumming to observe the rhythms of nature and the cycles of life or —
Four years of teaching drumming to observe rhythms of people and nature.

34-39 Years Old:
Apprentice with a master teacher.

40 Years Old:
Journey into the underworld for three years with drum and voice as ballast (a human guide if you wish for first year).

44-49 Years Old:
Spend time in nature with animals and trees and elements. 
Special time at ocean. Gather all life sustenance from nature.
Find instruments in nature, i.e. rocks, sticks, leaves, pods, etc.

A drumming performance with students in 1992 (photo by Irene Young)

Before 50 Years:
Return to community or go to or create a new one.
Do work/service that will open path for receiving community drum anytime after this time. The work may be about being — simply being fully present.

50 to 60 Years:
The Community Heartbeat — Community Acknowledgement.
Step into full personal power.
Reclaim wholeness and holiness without a doubt.
Focus more clearly on sharing gifts with community.
Know deepest purpose for being alive and incarnate as a human at this particular time in history/herstory.

I received first community drum — a barrel drum I named Eve, at age 50.

Received Tarahumara Drum as a gift from B.J. Quintana at 53 — December, 1998. Those who made it are Indigenous people in the mountains of Northern Mexico.

This is a sign and blessing to me to begin being a bridge between the Indigenous “Beat-Keepers” and those of Western Culture — to help with a balance needed in the world today.

Birthed Heart Drum with the help of the community at age 55.

B.J. Quintana is the drum-maker and Feeny Lipscomb offered All One Tribe Drums in Taos, NM, as the place of birth.

The Heart Drum was born on August 15, 2000.

60 to 70 Years
Divine Drumming — Drum Divination — Move Drums to proper keepers, places, homes.
Deepen seeing from the heart and the commitment to follow your heart.
Detachment of worldly things and pursuits.
Focus on deepening connection with spirit.

Barbara playing with the band "Alive" in 2012

70 to 73 Years:
A new level of trust in the Divine Death of Form and Eternal Life of the Formless...These are the new Partners to Drum, Sing and Dance with from this point onward…to incorporate into all I do and be.

World on Fire Project — a poetry & music collaboration to address the climate crisis and related issues comes forth. Using a variety of drums and percussion instruments.
Teaching many about life through drumming/music.
Helping de-stress others through living in delight.

74 to ?? Years:


Focus on the inner drumbeat of the heart.
Go deeper inside to get the ballast necessary to maintain...

Go deeper inside to get the ballast necessary to maintain...


In these trying times stay grounded in...



Barbara Borden has been drumming since the age of 10 — a passion that has provided a sense of wellbeing throughout her life. Her musical explorations have been many: performing and recording artist collaborating with many musicians, dancers, authors, storytellers, actors, poets, and healers... member of the band Alive! (eight years, three albums);... composer (Beauty in the Beat, All Hearts Beating, Lady of the Serpent Skirt with Sheilah Glover)... solo performer in her autobiographical "percussion play," She Dares to Drum, written & directed by Naomi Newman.

Barbara is passionate about teaching others the joy of drumming. She has facilitated drum circles, ceremonies, councils, workshops, and retreats. She teaches private lessons and group drum sessions and mentor programs. The healing and transformative power of sound and music has always been important to Barbara. She enjoys learning and teaching through delight, and has developed an experiential event for groups and individuals that combines drumming, voice, and dance.

Barbara has become a citizen of the world, traveling and drumming in refugee camps and at peace concerts in the former Yugoslavia in 1994 in the midst of civil war. In 2001, she traveled to Zimbabwe where she was initiated by African healer Mandaza Kandemwa at a time of a brutal dictatorship and economic collapse. To the people in both countries, Barbara brought joy with drumbeat diplomacy. In 2008, Borden traveled to the small republic of Khakassia in Southern Siberia where she performed with her band, "Fools Gold," and was initiated into Shamanism by Tatiani Khobezhikova in this beautiful rural land. 

Barbara is the subject of the acclaimed documentary, Keeper of the Beat: A Woman's Journey into the Heart of Drumming. She is co-creator/percussionist in the poetry-music piece, World on Fire, which addresses the current climate crisis. Barbara is delighted to share the transformative and regenerative power of drumming, voice, and dance… a combination that she believes fuels the health, happiness, and harmony of community life. 

Click here to visit Barbara’s website.
Click here to watch the trailer for Keeper of the Beat.


The Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive The Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 17: Sound Healing Global Summit