Healing to the sound of the beat

Rick Allen of Def Leppard and his wife, Lauren Monroe, founded The Raven Drum Foundation as a way to help heal those faced with adversity. Photo courtesy of Rick Allen

Malibu residents Rick Allen and Lauren Monroe will conduct a community drum circle at the Thousand Oaks Interpretive Chumash Center Sept. 24.

By Lori Allen / Special to The Malibu Times

Using the force of drumming, Def Leppard’s drummer Rick Allen and his wife, Lauren Monroe, are continuing to put their talents to use as a way of helping people deal with physical and other types of adversity.

The Malibu-based couple founded The Raven Drum Foundation to achieve this goal. They use drums as a way to connect to people’s emotions and say they hope to use the beats of the music to drive pain away.

Since 2001, the couple has been leading drumming circles in the Los Angeles area to help terminally ill patients and at-risk children overcome obstacles through the art of drumming. The husband and wife team say they wanted to inspire people with their spiritual insight and musical teachings. They said they were drawn to the word “Raven” for its transformational message into the spiritual world.

The Raven Drum Foundation will host another community drum circle at the Thousand Oaks’ Chumash Interpretative Center on Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. The two-hour event will include a special blessing, jazz music, a West African Drum ensemble, a raffle and musical guest appearances. More than 200 people are expected to attend the event and all proceeds will be donated to the Hurricane Katrina relief and other charities.

During the event, three to four drum rhythms are played throughout the circle and the first intention of the drum circle honors the dead. Monroe will lecture to the group about the importance of coming together as a community and being grounded. She said her hope is to have people leave the event with a tangible understanding of how they get from one point to another.

Raven Drum Foundation visits hospitals, organizations, high schools and even military bases to give free drum and healing lectures.

“Raven Drum Circles take people into places they had never thought they could be and people are touched in profound ways,” Monroe explained. “People are allowed to cry and the sounds of the drum are here to take that intention away.”

The foundation has a staff of drums facilitators and music therapists who are trained by the couple to conduct integrative sessions in a holistic atmosphere. The future of the Raven Drum Circle is to work with local charities and there are plans to travel to places in America that need empowerment, the couple said. Allen’s visions for the Raven Drum Foundation is to receive more corporate sponsorship and partner with nongovernmental organizations that will provide additional funding to continue its programs.

Reportedly, by the end of one Raven Drum Circle some immobile children were able to move certain parts of their bodies through the sound of drums.

In a recent interview, Allen and Monroe spoke on how children are the best measures of why the Raven Drum Circle is a proven success. Many of the children at these drum circles suffer from life threatening illnesses and they put out their purest intentions to believe they will heal. Children are not skeptical about the outcome, they said, and have expressed to the couple how good they feel afterwards.

Rick Allen is no stranger to beating the odds. In 1984, at the age of 21, he lost his left arm in an automobile accident. Lying in a hospital bed, Allen had to re-learn how to play basic rhythms first with his feet and then learn to drum with only his right arm. Allen credits the huge amount of support from his friends, family and bandmates for helping through difficult times. Now, at 42, he continues to play in the famous rock band and his story has become legendary in rock music history. The band will tour several North American cities and is in the studio recording a new CD due out in early 2006.

“Whenever anybody goes through an experience like that, you visit parts of yourself that you seldom visit. So I think you start asking questions about your existence,” Allen said on becoming more spiritual after his accident.

The Thousand Oaks’ Chumash Interpretative Center is located at 3290 Lang Ranch Parkway, Thousand Oaks. There is an entry fee of a minimum $15 donation for adults and children are welcomed for free at the Sept. 24 drum circle event. More information on the foundation and the event can be found at the Web site www.ravendrumfoundation.org or by calling 310.774.7462.