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Hospices benefit from healing beats

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKalb County Hospice and DeKalb High School will hold the second annual benefit concert, Transformation Through Rhythm, at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 in the DeKalb High School auditorium. The concert will include the DeKalb High School Percussion Ensemble, Northern Illinois University World Music ensembles and Harambee African Percussion Ensemble.

DeKalb County Hospice hopes to raise awareness of both the local and global need for music therapy, bringing diverse groups of people from the community together through music, while giving young adults an opportunity to be of service by sharing their talents. Admission to the concert is free and donations are appreciated.

Proceeds from this special performance will help support DeKalb County Hospice’s music therapy program, which is largely funded through donations and grants, and will help support a therapeutic drumming program at Knysna-Sedgefield Hospice in Knysna, South Africa. Knysna-Sedgefield Hospice’s Transformation Through Rhythm is a program for children ages 13 to 17 whose parents were in hospice care; many of these children are now orphans from AIDS. Therapeutic drumming circles help these kids deal with their losses and the harshness around them, as many live in extremely impoverished conditions.

In March 2012, the first Transformation Through Rhythm concert was well attended and raised $2,200, which was split between the hospices. Ann Werhane, whose husband has Alzheimer’s disease, attended the concert that night and called DeKalb County Hospice the next morning to say she was most impacted by a PowerPoint slide from the South African hospice showing the “Care for the Caregiver” drumming group.

“I’ve been part of traditional support groups before, but I just know this would offer me something completely unique, and would be so helpful,” she said in a news release.

As a result of this call, DeKalb County Hospice borrowed drums and offered an eight-week “care for the caregiver” therapeutic drumming group called Healing Beats.

Research is burgeoning on the positive effects of group drumming, and AARP reports drumming circles are among the country’s fastest-growing holistic or wellness health trends. Organizers hope to raise enough funds for the purchase of drums and percussion equipment to enable DeKalb County Hospice to offer ongoing drum circles for family and professional caregivers, and to give children and adult bereavement groups opportunities to use drums.

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