Sabina Sandoval is drumming today with a spirit that feels as if it has never shined brighter.
The California native returned on Sunday, spirit in tow, to the Liberty Park drum circle to remind everyone, she says, of what the circle is all about.
“[The drum circle] is about music, and camaraderie, and the people, and the children, and education and love,” Sandoval says.
Alongside 12 others, Sandoval was instrumental in founding the drum circle 22 years ago. She was like the mother of the circle, she says, nurturing it and aiming to make the circle a healing and transformative experience for youth and adults in the Salt Lake community.
“Everybody needs to drum—to get out of their thoughts,” she says. “Drumming is sacred and healing.”
Sandoval’s impact has certainly been felt. The drum circle, for many, is a livelier version church on Sunday. For Alexandra Cole, a community member and drum circle regular, the circle has been a place for her to connect with others and with herself.
“When I moved to Utah I was really glad that they had a drum circle at Liberty Park,” she says. “It really is a good place to connect with yourself, other people and the earth.”
Sunday’s rendition of the circle was special for Sandoval and the community, as it honored the life of community member Christopher David’s daughter who recently passed.
Holding a picture frame with the portrait of a David’s daughter high above her head, Sandoval began Sunday’s circle with a reverberating crescendo of voices and the didgeridoo, marking its commemorative purpose.
“We are going to celebrate her,” she said.
Since moving from Salt Lake in 1997, Sandoval has extended her influence through drumming by founding the the Free to Be Me non-profit organization. Free to Be Me’s website says it aims to help at-risk children, the elderly, prison inmates and individuals with mental disabilities through “loving, educational drumming events.”
Sandoval says she draws a lot of influence from the very same children she is trying to benefit.
“Kids are artists at play. You watch children and they are never in yesterday or tomorrow. They can take a can and kick it all day and they just go off—that’s what we are doing here,” she says. “The kids are the influence—they’re the ones that teach me.”