Living and Sharing the Rhythm with Mark Seaman
Oct 30, 2013 08:30AM
● By Gisele Siebold
Mark Seaman, founder of Earth Rhythms and Livin’ in the Rhythm interactive music and movement programs, participated in a weekend drumming event presented by Layne Redmond, author of When the Drummers Were Women, that changed the course of his life positively. Then, more than 20 years ago, Seaman was in transition after closing a series of businesses and looking for a different career.
His joyful drumming experience led him to take a leap of faith. Earth Rhythms, an eclectic world music store specializing in global percussive instruments and jewelry made by his wife, Sandra, opened in 1993, but it was early inspiration from mentor and teacher Barry Bernstein, a licensed music therapist, that set Seaman on the path toward his life’s true work.
Earth Rhythms grew quickly, answering a great demand for drums and materials that couldn’t be found outside of New York or Philadelphia prior to the store’s opening. With his desire to share the pleasure of drumming at the forefront of his business philosophy, Seaman also offered classes in world drumming. Earth Rhythms became a hub of drumming activity, excitement, sharing and networking. In June 2011, Seaman sold Earth Rhythms to Lisa Fairman, a fellow drummer and frequent customer.
Seaman met Bernstein at the Omega Institute in New York in 1995. Bernstein was successfully using the healing techniques of drumming rhythms to help Alzheimer's patients in a veteran’s hospital and invited Seaman to join him in setting up three-day training programs for music therapists in the Northeast. Seaman also completed Bernstein’s training courses called Rhythm for Life and Unity with a Beat. By 1998, Seaman was ready to create Livin’ in the Rhythm, a dynamic, rhythmic, interactive music program that provides the opportunity to unite groups as one community.
Seaman’s dedication and excitement are evident in his voice as he tells the story of his creative concept. “I tapped into the idea of bringing drumming to others at the right time. I was the only guy doing it at the time, and the business became well-established because I gave high-quality presentations. It took off by word of mouth. I never spent any money on advertising.” Requests came streaming in for Seaman to present community building through drumming at schools, conferences and corporate events.
Over the years, Seaman has developed rhythm-based programs that he calls “multicultural musical celebrations of life” for groups of all ages. These include Drumming Up a Team, a participatory workshop that promotes teamwork and the power of synchronicity among employees in the corporate environment, and the Livin’ in the Rhythm Assembly Program, designed to help schools build community, increase cooperation and celebrate diversity.
Seaman promotes scientific research that documents the wellness factors associated with drumming, such as increased energy, immune system effectiveness, improved mood, elevated confidence and stress reduction. Based on such information, he created The Healing Power of the Drum, a meditative rhythm and sound healing program, and Rhythm and Recovery, which is relevant for patients struggling with addictions and has been featured in the American Journal of Public Health and on Dateline NBC.
Seaman holds regular drumming sessions at Caron Pennsylvania, an addictions treatment facility in Wernersville, the original location of Caron Treatment Centers, and has also brought his programs to the Betty Ford Center, in California, Seabrook House, in New Jersey, and several Hazleden locations.
Seaman and Kate Stufflet, a licensed clinical social worker, recently developed a program called Healthy Rhythms, that uses rhythm-based therapy, movement and relaxation to address compassion fatigue among healthcare professionals, educators and caregivers, with the mission to encourage self-care skills.
From the moment he began drumming, Seaman felt wonderfully different. It elevated his mood, reduced his stress, started his endorphins flowing and increased his energy. He attributes his own experience as the reason that he tried to make drumming acceptable and accessible to a wide audience. The techniques he uses are rooted in deep, holistic beliefs that bring physical and spiritual effects. Rather than trying to sell the great things that come from drumming rhythms with a community of people, Seaman allows people to experience it for themselves.
Gisele Siebold, who lives in Lancaster, is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings. She met Mark Seaman in 2002 when she participated in one of his inspiring drumming programs.