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Drums, Culture, & New World Rhythmatism

Online Experiential Distance Education
This course satisfies Requirements for 3 G
eneral Education credits in Humanities, Social Science, or Values and Diversity at the 
College of Southern Nevada 

Anth 217 is experiential education. It is designed to create holistic learning opportunities through engagement in challenging and rewarding activities.

This course combines active participation with lecture, discussion, multimedia, reading, and writing to explore the fascinating connections between rhythm and culture. 

Like Anthropology 204, Drums, Culture, and New World Rhythmatism provides extraordinary insight into the role of ritual and art in culture. Throughout the semester, we will be looking at a variety of examples in which rhythm is essential to the cultural process. Our experiences learning and playing together will further inform our interpretations of these cross-cultural activities.

If you are new to the world of rhythm, this course provides a map of the wide territory before you. It also offers the tools to pursue further studies within traditional cultural styles.

The experiential component of the course is based in a practice known as New World Rhythmatism (NWR). No experience is required in order to participate.  In spite of what you may have been told, everyone has rhythm.  If you can practice, you can play too.

This course is organized as a hybrid online/traditional class,  it is possible to complete the course by focusing on the online academic work and not engaging in the experiential aspects

If you are interested in taking the class, but are not a CSN student and do not want to pursue a degree, fill out the following admission application as a non-degree seeking student here (click on "apply here now"): http://www.csn.edu/pages/694.asp This will provide the MYCSN account number and a password needed to register for class at (click on "access my CSN): http://www.csn.edu/pages/702.asp


What Students Say about Drums, Culture, & New World Rhythmatism at CSN

"New World Rhythmatism is a journey not only of learning to play the drum, but it is one of self exploration. Be prepared to grow as a person, and expand the box you've created for yourself. Upon reading the description for this class, I admit I was terrified. But, the fact that something is terrifying is a good indicator that it needs further exploration. That's just what this course seeks to do. If you want an experience that will noticeably change you, your skill level, and the way you look at the world forever, than New World Rhythmatism is the path. EVERYTHING I was initially afraid of has come true, and I couldn't be more satisfied. Embrace your desire to feel the rhythym, to feel connected, and to feel inspired through drums, art and culture." - Kandyce Kelley

"I have been a set drummer for roughtly five years and before this class I considered myself to have reasonably extensive knowledge about the nature of the drum and rhythm. However, this course allowed me to discover so much more about the power of rhythm through voice, chant, and the drum than I was able to discover through the past five years of self-study. Many aspects of rhythm are delineated in this class. Some of the rhythmic facets that are shared are the intrisic human desire for rhythm, the history of the drum, why cultures use the drum and other rhythmic instruments as a tool for improiving a person's physical and mental health and a building block for enhancing and embracing positive relationships within a rhythmic community, and so much more. Personally, not only has this class been educationally enlightening, but it has also been a lot of fun and a great stress releif. This class is perfect for scholars of all backgrounds. If you are interested in music and / or cultural anthropology this class is a must take." - Burton Wesley Kelly III

"This isn't your average Anthropology class; In fact, it's not your average class at all! You meet a group of friends each week to explore yourself, your instrument, and your relationships with the world. An average class goes something like this... I walk into the room with a frame drum and a doumbek provided by Dr. J. I find my place in a circle of fellow rhythmatists and we start a pulse on our drums. We lock into the pulse so that we sound as one drum. Each of us sway to the pulse and begin to chant, "Drum, Dance, and Chanting meditations, of our many diverse relations, creating themes on a variation, evolving towards the one..." What makes this practice so special is how we do it. Every movement and word is made mindfully; we are aware of everything from the ground up. Our feet feel the earth beneath them, our legs support our body, our body supports our head, our mind is completely aware of its surroundings... The feeling that ensues is unique and wonderful!

After we are "warmed up", we learn how to create the many possible sounds on our drums. It's amazing how many colors of sound you can create with a simple frame drum. We learn some of the many rhythms that have been played on these drums for centuries. It does take some time, a bit of effort, and even some pain to hold and play your drum with confidence, but the experience you'll have is well worth what you put into it! If you're ready to take your entire self to the next level, this is a class that can show you how." - Robert Crisler
"Through participation in the classroom drum circle, students will discover more about music's role in society and cultural communication, as it pertains to the history of drumming. 
By using African and Egyptian drums, djembes and doumbeks, respectively, students will build skills in cultural rhythms, chant as a method of communication and experience simple movement exercises to increase their ensemble creativity and respect for others. Practicing, reading and writing will only enhance the individual and group activities. If this sounds interesting, it will be the best class you could ever take!" - Anna Vaillancourt

"There comes a point in your life when you want to hang up your high heels and skirts, spread your toes into the ground, breath in acceptance and breath out life. There also comes a point in your life when you have the opportunity to do so. The choice might be a hard decision, but the journey is well worth the reward. And by reward I mean a genuine smile, and a circle of friends that allow you to dance and sing with them. Friends that encourage you to be yourself. Judgement does not exist in the circle, only bliss. If you stumble across this class, like I did myself, then you have reached the point in your life to choose. I chose to taste the raw energy of creation. Will you chose the same? " - Paige Overton of "the Clydesdale"

"I have enjoyed this class more than any college class I have ever taken. I have learned more about myself than I have about drumming. I have learned that I have a voice, and that it is heard. Most of the time it isn’t in sync with the others, and this has been an important lesson for me. As a teenager I could swing the poi, do the hula, and I even taught ballroom dancing for a while. I haven’t danced in over 40 years... I have learned the importance of being in tune not only with others, but with my self, my soul and my body, and I am determined to get my natural rhythm back.

I have enjoyed reading and outlining the articles as I have learned a great deal. I have learned even more from doing the contemplations. This semester I have read the books “When the Drummers Were Women”, “Drum Circles”, and Dr. Diamonds book on healing with the drum. I have read “Rhythmic Medicine” by Juanalea Hoffman and have started meditating with one of her CDs. This class has set my course in a direction I would never have dreamed possible.

...I have enjoyed being with every member of the class, and each one has contributed to my life in a very positive way. I appreciate your talent, and thank you for not only sharing it so willingly with others, but teaching us the deeper lessons." - Barbara

"So… you are thinking about taking Anthropology 198 huh? Well, prepare for your mind to be blown! Prepare for your spirit to soar and your heart to overflow with your own unexplored potential. Maybe you love music and are interested with its role in other cultures. Maybe you have always wanted to learn an instrument and call yourself a musician. Or maybe you are already a skilled musician and are looking to expand your abilities. Whatever the case, in this class, you will meet cool and compassionate people who will create a safe and friendly place for you to play and learn. Together you will face intimidating challenges. Although, together, you will overcome them and I bet you will be a changed person by the time this class is over. What are you waiting for? Enroll today and start the mysterious journey into rhythm and culture." - Josh Mateus

"This class is so much deeper than anything I could have imagined when I signed up for it. From the first class to the last there is a complete atmosphere of support and creativity. Dr. Levin really lives and breathes rhythmatism, and it shows through in the way he teaches the class. The class itself is very unconventional and spontaneous, which is a great break from the cut and dry classes in college. In the class I did things I never thought I could do, and it really did push me to my edge.  To me the class was a deeply spiritual experience, and as corny as it sounds, it really did change my life. I would highly reccomend this class to music lovers and spiritual seekers alike. The class opened me up to a whole culture and way of life in rhythmatism that will stay with me for the rest of my life." - Jeff Hill

"I joined Dr. Levin's class with absolutely no idea what it would be about. I just saw the word "drum" and thought "Hey, this should be a fun class." I never would have expected to learn the cultural diversity in everday life that I have been privied to. The fact that song and dance control even the simplest of daily dealings has inspired me to learn and travel to places outside our limited, traditional views. I can honestly say that it has been an experience, and you couldn't find a better teacher for the subject." - Chase Demarco

 I highly recommend this class to anyone who is willing to step out of their comfort zone! If you have been told by anyone in your life that you have no muscial ability or rhythm than this class is for you! The truth is that the rhythm of life is deeply embedded within each and every one of us, it's just a matter of cultivating and expressing that inner rhythm! You will come to find that simply engaging in the act of practice will change both your perception of yourself and the world! Everyday will seem to be infused with rhythm and opportunity, and the intoxicating nature of drumming will take you on a journey of amazing proportions! This class has given me the confidence and support to pursue my new found love of drumming, along with countless moments filled with laughter and love! The drummer inside is calling, enroll today!!! - Betina Vasquez

"If you're ready to take a flying leap out of the ordinary day-to-day  routine of classes, lectures, and homework, you're ready for this. If you're interested in hearing music unlike anything you've ever heard before, and making music unlike anything you've ever made before, you're interested in this. If you've always wanted to move past your edges, out into the unknown, to see the dazzling possibilities there, you've been wanting this. From the distant beginnings of tempo and time, into the present of pulse and rhyme, the river of rhythm is flowing... and will take you  for a ride. Drums, Rhythm and Culture is a journey into the heart of creativity.  Check it out, take a risk, try something new.  You'll be glad you did." - Abigail Spinner McBride

"This class has touched me intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I signed up for Rhythm, Drums, and Culture after watching and listening to Dr. Levin play his drum during a class. It was mystical and I so wanted to try to learn how to do that. What fun learning this has been! It’s almost impossible to describe this class for anyone because it is different for everyone. We learn to play, to trust, and to give of ourselves in a very safe environment and we are encouraged to find our best selves for every part of the class. The readings and films are mesmerizing and the class time is something I looked forward to every week. I am so thankful to have had this experience and I hope I can do it again! Soon!" - Michele McLeod

With Dr. J in a drumming group, my experience was totally different. With a few simple calls we would all be on the same page, I would feel completely connected to the other drummers, the rhythms would be recognizable, we played together in a spirit of harmony and cooperation. The groups were smaller and we would have to cycle through to give everyone a chance to play. The connections we made with each other were almost palpable, you could just about taste them. When it became time to leave, we could easily have sat for a half hour in silence just acknowleding each other. This is why I originally signed up of this class.

I feel that I have walked away with a much better appreciation for the power of the drum. I have a better understanding of rhythm and it's place in our culture as well as how and why it is so different in other cultures. I met the most amazing people and feel that I connected with them in a way that just cannot be described. You owe it to yourself to experience New World Rhythmatism even if drumming is just a passing fancy or a life-long pursuit.

Anth 217