Phil Didlake is not only a performer but uses music as a medium for building community. He uses a holistic, humanistic phsychology approach in teaching and facilitating events to ....He multi-instrumentalist currently studying music therapy, with seven years of experience facilitating rhythm-based drum circle events. He has experiences in serving schools, communities, retirement homes, day care centers, special needs groups and children's camps, wedding celebrations, corporate events, and celebrations of life. Phil advocates for the therapeutic and health benefits of drum circles and believes that the team-building effects of community drumming give long-term benefit for a wide range of populations. He worked with the City of Livermore, Ca. to develop a program of drumming in a popular downtown open space that created a vibrant experience, brought in other musicians, dancers, and performance teams, and virtually eliminated loitering and problem behavior.
At a young age Phil experienced a transformative moment when he walked up and was invited to join in a drum circle on a beach in Santa Cruz, California. Seeing the joyful collaboration and communication that drumming brought to the participants, he created his own thriving drum circle in Livermore, California and was featured on a local TV channel. As Phil’s drum circles grew well beyond his expectations, Phil Googled “how to run a drum circle”, found out about Arthur Hull and read his book on drum circle facilitation and leadership. Shortly after, Phil applied for and received a scholarship for a drum facilitation workshop in Oakland hosted by Arthur Hull. At this workshop Phil first learned about music therapy as more than half of the participants were active music therapists. Realizing that he shared similar values, he started to seek out an institution that was accredited by the AMTA which would also allow him to play the drum kit and world drums through jazz and improvisation. After an exhaustive search, he found the only institution that was open to these ideas, the Berklee College of Music. He immediately dedicated himself to an intensive period of study and was accepted for admission.
Phil believes that facilitated communal drumming breaks down social barriers by providing a safe environment for improvisation, sharing, group participation and fun. More and more research is demonstrating that synchronous group activity has a therapeutic effect and allows people to relax, express themselves, and accept different personalities and cultural values. The benefits are not only immediate, but carry over into real changes of attitude and social acceptance as well as personal confidence and feelings of well-being . Phil believes that facilitated communal drumming is perfect for the classroom, for team building in businesses, and has therapeutic value for people in retirement homes, for veterans with PTSD, and for children with developmental issues. At his community drum circles, many testimonials have been offered, including one particularly moving one from a veteran with PTSD who came up to Phil after a session. This battle-exposed veteran had been going through psychotherapy and said that the drumming was the only thing that had allowed him to relax and escape from his traumatic memories. Another man, who loved to play the guitar but was timid and afraid to play in public, gained confidence to become relaxed in social situations through the socialization provided by communal drumming, and now is a regular professional performer throughout his town.