'Unbelievable and rewarding': Mandurah music program expands to remote Kimberley community

A therapeutic drumming and music program started in Mandurah has expanded into the Kimberley region, aimed at inspiring and connecting local communities.

Local business, Circles of Connection, came from humble roots, facilitating workshops in and around Peel.

Hoping to further her musical impact, owner and manager Carolyne Forte recently turned the Dampier Peninsula into a hub of rhythm after a two-week trip in December.

Joined by her musician colleagues Linda White and Max Carter, the trio taught children music and drumming in the remote Indigenous community of Beagle Bay.

While they have been travelling to communities in the Kimberley region for five years now, Ms Forte said this trip was particularly special.

"A while ago we got funding from Community Soup to get more drums to be able to open it up to the wider community," she said.

"Since then it's gone from strength to strength and this year, we wanted to step it up another notch.

"When we got more drums, we thought it would be amazing to take the drums with us to the Kimberley and do some drumming workshops."

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After the team were knocked back for state government funding to pay for the trip, they organised their own fundraiser and raised enough to cover their travel costs.

Armed with their instruments, they facilitated drum and music workshops at the local school, ran a beginner's ukulele program and taught body percussion.

Ms Forte said they also introduced their new focused music program.

"We did one-on-one music sessions with a lot of the kids and taught them keyboards, bass, guitar and drums and also focused on vocals," she said.

"We were also able to work closely with 12 of the students and make two bands that performed at an end of year concert.

"The concert also showcased the results that Circles of Connection had achieved with these incredibly talented students, which included drumming, table top and body percussion and a performance from the ukulele group."

Ms Forte described the experience as "unbelievable and rewarding" and said the students all benefited from the experience.

"It's usually really hit and miss whether the kids come to school or not but the teachers said that there was twice as many kids showing up for school during the time we were there," she said.

"Drumming is at the cutting edge of artistic therapy - it's an exercise where you are present and in the moment and it boosts confidence, which is fantastic for mental health.

"The effects last longer than the workshops - it gets deep into their hearts and they take it with them."

The Beagle Bay community are hoping to get funding to allow Circles of Connection to continue working with the students on an annual basis.

"We want to continue - we're just about to approach some more schools in remote areas for particularly week-long programs but we also want to do some school incursions as well," Ms Forte said.

"This is the beginning and we're just really excited about it."