The Harmony of Healing: Judi and Chris’s Story
In the heart of Valley Village, a symphony of drums echoes, each beat a testament to the healing power of music. This melody of hope and recovery is called The Wahlbangers Drum Circle. Founded by Judi and Chris, the story of the Wahlbangers is as moving as the rhythms they create.
Judi’s journey with the Wahlbangers Drum Circle began in a deeply personal space. She was a dedicated caregiver for her mother, who was battling stage four cancer. Their lives took a sharp turn when, just two weeks after Judi and Chris got married, her mother suffered a massive stroke. This life-altering event left Judi grappling with uncertainty about how to bring comfort and joy to her mother’s new life in a nursing facility.
In that moment of vulnerability and searching, Chris, Judi’s new husband, and a lifelong drummer, stepped in with a heartwarming suggestion. Chris, whose relationship with drumming had evolved from a professional pursuit to a therapeutic outlet after a hand injury, proposed an idea that was as simple as it was profound. Why not bring the joy of drumming to the nursing facility where her mother lived? The concept was to use their drums at home, creating a familiar and engaging activity for Judi’s mother and other residents.
This idea planted the seeds of the Wahlbangers Drum Circle. Chris and Judi gathered various drums and other instruments from their home. They organized the first drum circle at the nursing home. This wasn’t just an activity; it was a heartfelt gesture to connect with Judi’s mother and bring a sense of normalcy and celebration into her life at the nursing facility.
Little did they know this small act of love and music would resonate far beyond the walls of that room, growing into the Wahlbangers Drum Circle. What started as an intimate family effort to uplift one beloved member became a beacon of joy and therapy for many touching lives in ways they could never have imagined.
Drumming as Therapy: A Universal Language
What began as a small family gathering around drums in a nursing home grew into something much more significant. The drum circle attracted residents and their families, creating a community bond through the universal language of music.
“Everyone can play, no matter what experience level,” Chris explains, underscoring the inclusivity at the core of their mission.
Drumming, as they’ve found, isn’t just a musical activity. It’s a low-impact exercise that engages both the body and mind and is proven to activate both hemispheres of the brain. From helping participants modulate their emotions to encouraging concentration and cooperation, the benefits of their drum circles are manifold.
Touching Lives: Stories of Impact
In the Wahlbangers Drum Circle, every session reveals unique stories, each a testament to the transformative power of music. Judi recounts an incredibly moving experience at a psychiatric lockdown facility. Here, a woman, long withdrawn and isolated due to her severe mental health challenges, felt the call of the drum circle’s rhythm. This simple yet profound connection to the beat led her to join the session, marking her first active engagement with the community in many months. It was a moment where the rhythm transcended the barriers of mental health challenges, offering a sense of belonging and joy that had been elusive for so long.
In another poignant instance, a blind man became part of the drum circle. Despite his lack of sight, his seamless integration into the rhythm illustrated how music can bridge the gaps created by physical disabilities. This moment was a profound reminder that in the realm of music, everyone finds an equal place; regardless of their challenges, each person can share in the universal language of rhythm and harmony.
Perhaps one of the most impactful aspects of the Wahlbangers’ work is their dedication to veterans, especially those with spinal cord injuries. Understanding these individuals’ physical constraints, Chris has innovatively adapted drums to be wheelchair accessible. These custom-designed drums allow veterans to roll up and engage directly with the instrument, ensuring that no one is sidelined due to physical limitations. This adaptability not only brings the joy of music to these heroes but also acknowledges their service and resilience, offering a therapeutic outlet and a sense of normalcy missing from their lives.
These stories of impact from the Wahlbangers Drum Circle are more than just anecdotes; they are vivid illustrations of music’s capacity to heal, unite, and empower. Each drum beat is a pulse of life, echoing the triumphs, big and small, of individuals who refuse to be defined by their limitations. In this circle, barriers are broken, spirits are lifted, and every participant, regardless of background or challenges, is celebrated through the unifying power of music.
The Challenges and the Road Ahead
Running a nonprofit like this isn’t without its challenges. Judi handles the daunting task of managing the business end – from maintaining financials to regulatory compliances. Despite these hurdles, their commitment never wavers. Looking to 2024, the Wahlbangers are excited to continue their sessions at Valley Village and with the Veterans Administration. They’re also eagerly anticipating returning to Chapman University’s stroke boot camp, where they use drumming as a therapeutic tool for stroke survivors.
A Call to Action
As Judi and Chris continue their remarkable journey, they welcome volunteers and supporters who want to be part of this transformative experience. Whether through participation, volunteering, or donations, every contribution helps them create these magical moments of healing and unity through drumming.
Their story isn’t just about drumming; it’s about the resilience of the human spirit and the extraordinary power of music to heal, unite, and uplift. The Wahlbangers Drum Circle isn’t just creating music; they’re crafting a melody of hope and recovery, one beat at a time.