The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 23, 2014

Workshop will focus on drumming for health, wellness


JOHNSTOWN — Here is how to make music for health and wellness.

“Sound Empowerment,” an arts-in-education workshop with Jim Donovan, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to           4 p.m. April 12 at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto on the campus of St. Francis University.

Jessica Campbell, education coordinator at the museum, said the idea for the workshop came about after the museum partnered with St. Francis staff and Alternative Community Resource Program (ACRP) last summer for an art camp for autistic children.

“St. Francis staff did drumming before each session, and it helped to calm and relax the children and make them feel welcome in a different environment,” Campbell said.

“Most of the kids had participated in workshops or training with Jim Donovan. After seeing how the drumming would relax and calm the campers, I thought we needed to bring these workshops to SAMA to train our artists and staff as we prepare for upcoming art camps.”

This workshop designed for beginners will be open to anyone, and no musical experience is required.

“Some of my artists who do art camps and our healing arts programs are interested,” Campbell said.

“We have a directory of about 22 artists, and some of them have come to me saying they are interested in participating. I’d like to participate myself.”

Campbell said parents, caregivers and teachers of special-needs children also would benefit from the workshop.

“This is a way to bring about different programming,” Campbell said.

“We’re known for visual arts, and this way we can branch out. We’re excited to have Jim doing this. I know he has a busy schedule, but he comes highly recommended.”

The workshop will include breakfast, lunch and a tour of the museum.

Campbell will open with a welcome and tell participants about the museum and its programs. During the workshop, participants will learn basic rhythm and drumming techniques for individual and group environments, as well as voice and vocal toning.

The group will experience participating in a drum circle, while also learning how to use rhythm to lead health and wellness experiences and how to perform guided meditation and imagery with rhythm.

“My speciality is showing nonmusicians how to facilitate simple but effective group music making,” said Donovan, who is a music instructor at St. Francis.

“We will use percussion and drums. It’s also about how to create space and a welcoming environment, making it comfortable to create.”

Because an art camp is a creative experience, Donovan said the drumming is done at the beginning of class, helping to increase students’ level of focus.

“I can help make their job easier,” he added.

Donovan said using the voice can increase wellness by helping with stress reduction and sleep improvement.

“I wanted to develop a system to remove the barriers so that if someone says they can’t read music, carry a tune or have rhythm, it doesn’t matter,” Donovan said.

“My goal is to make it user-friendly. They get a feeling of empowerment when they find out they can do it.”

With a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Pittsburgh, Donovan knows what it’s like to go through a program that requires reading music and performance perfection.

“A big part of the population doesn’t like to read music or think they’re not good at it,” he said.

“They think, ‘I can’t do music. It’s not for me.’ Music is for everybody. I show people how to do it through training.”

The cost for the workshop is $40 per person. The workshop will be limited to 30 participants, and reservations are required by April 4.

Six hours of ACT 48 credit will be available.


What: “Sound Empowerment” with Jim Donovan.

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 12.

Where: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto on the campus of St. Francis University.

Tickets: $40 per person.

Information: 472-3920 or

Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at