Instructors + Program Descriptions
Jim Donovan : Director
New! TIbetan Chant Workshop
Learn how to use simple Tibetan sound healing techniques to access a clear mind, an open heart and an energized body. Learn how to use sound to cultivate more joy and compasssion in your life. Experience the power and support of intentional group chanting.
New! RENEWAL Drumming Experience
Get energized and inspired as you play vibrant traditional world rhythms, songs and chants. Smile as you experience the sheer joy of creating and expressing yourself musically in a welcoming group setting.
New! Drum & Chant Workshops
A joyous experience of ecstatic drumming, toning and profound relaxation.
The Drum & Chant Workshop shows you how to:
Energize the brain and clear the mind
Lessen resistance, fear and apathy
Create deep relaxation and stress relief
Expand conscious awareness
Unblock energetic and emotional congestion
Open creative thinking and expression
Donovan is a musician and educator whose mission is to empower, inspire
and connect people. In his work, Donovan uses music as a vehicle for
personal growth, healing, and the creation of community. He was a
founding member of the multi-platinum 90's band Rusted Root and was
voted "Drum Circle Facilitator of the Year" by the readers of Drum!
magazine. He holds a BA in classical music performance from the
University of Pittsburgh and is completing graduate work in Education
Leadership at Saint Francis University where he is also on faculty.
Donovan offers unique training programs designed to teach anyone how to use effective group rhythm, vocal toning, and other holistic techniques as tools for wellness with groups. One of these offerings entitled Percussion Intervention Training, is based on research he is involved in at Saint Francis that teaches professionals like occupational therapists, medical professionals, and educators how to use rhythm and sound as a complementary intervention for individuals with Autism and other children with disabilities.
In addition to his musical credentials, Donovan is an author, husband and father of 3.
Dr. Harry Pepper
Shamanic Journeying Workshop
Journeying is a set of ancient techniques dating back, according to
archaeologists, about 30,000 years. Many indigenous cultures throughout
the world have used these techniques to access healing and spiritual
realms. In this introduction workshop we will utilize a specific tempo
and rhythm on the drum, producing a particular sound frequency, which
consequently produces a theta state in the brain. This state, usually
associated with sleep and dreaming, produces deep relaxation, healing,
and often brings profound insight through creative imagery. This unique
healing experience can allow participants to unlock new dimensions of
personal power in their lives. No previous experience with journeying
is necessary as this class will include both basic instruction and a
experience for all participants.
Harry Pepper, Ph.D., is a psychologist and the Adult Program Coordinator at Common Ground The Cindy Nord Center for Renewal. Harry also maintains a private practice with Palmentera and Associates, Inc. and has a growing life coaching practice, working with clients across the nation. He worked for eight years as a Staff Psychologist in the Oberlin College Counseling Center and is an experienced presenter on a wide range of topics including holistic and alternative healing approaches, shadow work, relationship issues and men's issues. He has more than 10 years of experience providing individual, couples and group therapy to a diverse population of clients.
Kim McElhatten (New instructor for 2013!)
Wild Writes: Nature Writing
Explore the natural surroundings of the Saint Francis campus with Kim McElhatten. In her workshop Wild Writes: Nature Writing, participants will combine nature walks with the art of journal writing to practice mindfulness and to reaffirm their connection with the earth. Everyone is welcome to join this class. No experience in writing or nature identification is needed. Come to this class prepared with a journal and ready to experience Mother Nature in a new way.
Kim McElhatten is a writer, teacher, and drummer in Central PA where she offers meditation and writing workshops at HeartspaceWellness Alliance. There she also facilitates The Second Sunday Drum Circles and is a Reiki practitioner specializing in Reiki for Relationships.
Her principal philosophy in life is that each of us has a responsibility to design our own happiness. Her workshops focus on techniques to quiet the mind, allowing participants to connect to the inner, ancient wisdom that leads to happiness and manifests a universal condition for everyone to experience joy.
All levels of experience are welcome. From the "beginning beginner" to the experienced player, the Drum For Joy™ classes are enjoyable for everyone! Jaqui specializes in djembe drumming, but other hand drums are welcome, (ashikos, bougaraboos, congas, etc.). Recording and note taking are welcome and encouraged.
Jaqui MacMillan found her passion for African drumming in the early 1980’s. She has since studied with many masters, including Babatunde Olatunji, Mamady Keita, and Sam Turner and at the Tam Tam Mandingue School in Washington, DC. Having performed and recorded with some of the top names in the business, she began sharing her joy of drumming with others by teaching classes and facilitating community drum circles. Jaqui has taught privately and given workshops around the country for nearly two decades through her program, “Drum For Joy!”
Learn to use humming, toning, tuning and melody to increase
space, clear energy centers and connect to self. The techniques I use are based in Tantric Yoga but
along with Sanskrit, I also incorporate chants from Native American,
Jewish, Christian and Sufi backgrounds. I use gentle movement with some
techniques and circle dances from Native American, Jewish, West
African and Sufi traditions. Along with voice.
Rachel Allen is a Certified Music Practitioner at Windber Medical Center. She works applying live music at the bedside as a tool for healing with voice and harp with patients in hospital and hospice units. Rachel is also a trained REMO Health Rhythms Group Empowerment Drumming Facilitator and utilizes vibrational medicine with voice, quartz crystal singing bowls and drumming with various groups at WMC. Rachel serves as an Executive Board member of the Music for Healing and Transition Program (www.mhtp.org), an international certification program for therapeutic musicians.
Afro-Cuban Drumming: Basics and Beyond
Delve into the world of Conga drumming as we explore the foundations of Afro-Cuban and Latin Rhythms. Learn the basic techniques for playing conga drums through rhythms found in many styles of music all over the world. We will also look at making practice methods enjoyable and ways to advance your drumming at any level.
+ Rhythm for the Spoken Word Workshop w/ Matthew Adams (Read the full desciption in Matthew's in the right hand column.)
A percussionist of unique style, self-published poet and dynamic
teacher and facilitator, Bryan Fazio has been pursuing a life with
music and creativity since the age of 27 when he left his job as a
mailman and decided to play the Conga drums.
He teaches Blissful Drumming at Community College of Beaver
County, facilitates workshops throughout the greater Pittsburgh area
on hand drumming and spontaneous poetry, gives private lessons
and accompanies Yoga classes.
He performs regularly with Jim Donovan’s Sun King Warriors,
Tertium Quid Percussion Ensemble, Faze 4 and as a solo artist. He
performed with dozens of different artists weekly throughout
2010-2011 in the widely acclaimed “Friends of Fazio”.
Fazio released “Poems and Sounds” in 2004 and “Basement Rumba”
with PJ Roduta in 2010. He is also featured on Jim Donovan’s “Live
in Wellsville 2006” and recordings by Faze 4 and McFuzz.
He is the author of “Projections”, a book of poetry and original
Dance with the Rhythm Renewal Dance ensemble during our Saturday night concert. All attendees are welcome! Even beginners!
Expressive Movement Workshop
Have you ever watched others dance and secretly wanted to join in, but held yourself back? Many
of us have been taught that dancing is for an exclusive group of people and we feel afraid to express ourselves through movement. In this guided experience, you will have the opportunity to allow yourself to
move in whatever way you want or need, feel the power and freedom of full self-expression, and to simply be alive in your body. Every individual is warmly welcomed regardless of age, physical ability or dance experience. Come and reconnect to the purest essence of who you are!
West African Dance Workshop
This West African dance class incorporates liberating movement, appreciation for community, and a celebration of life. Each class involves a warm up, West African dance instruction, and a community dance circle. Come and experience a deep sense of connection, fun, and self-expression while moving your body to energizing rhythms. All are warmly welcomed and no dance experience is necessary.
Becky Bickford is a West African dance performer and teacher who creates community through the connection, freedom and joy that is ignited through dancing. She first learned and performed West African dance in her undergraduate studies at Penn State University and deepened her understanding of dance and culture during her four month stay in Guinea and Ghana, West Africa in 2011. For more than three years, Becky has been teaching community classes at the Bottleworks Ethnic Arts Center in Johnstown, PA and is a founding member and lead dancer of Kulani, a West African Dance and Drum Ensemble that has performed more than 25 times in the region. She has taught, choreographed, and performed at St. Francis University and Penn State University as well as numerous workshops, retreats, festivals and events in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and North Carolina. Becky is also a Certified Reiki Practitioner, a Certified Ashtanga Yoga Teacher and aspiring to become a doula.
Rhythm Renewal Drummers Leader
Perform with the Rhythm Renewal Drum ensemble during our Saturday night concert. All attendees are welcome! Even beginners!
Soft Sounds All-Percussion Workshop
A percussion workshop for everyone. My goals include increasing listening skills and creativity, empowering people who might not usually pick up a percussion instrument, and fostering musicality. Bells, shakers, blocks and gongs make up this lively workshop
Mike Deaton is a performer, recording artist, experienced
djembe and hand-drum teacher, and a facilitator of music for all ages
and experience levels. In his 15 years of making music, he has amassed a
large collection of drums and percussion instruments from around the
world, and learned to use them as a way to bring people together in
Didgeridoo and Throat Singing : Ancient Ways for Modern Times
The Australian Didgeridoo is one of the oldest instruments in the world, but there is one even much older- the human voice!
Both the didgeridoo and the voice have been used for thousands of years for prayer, communication, meditation, and of course music! Learn the basics of didgeridoo (instruments provided) and throat singing in a way that is easy and fun! This class is designed for musicians, health care workers, and anyone interested in the healing use of music in everyday life!
Jim Gagnon is a highly acclaimed storyteller and musician, and founder of the Dreamtime Project. Private lessons available.
Ron Blouch (New instructor for 2013!)
How to Meditate
What if you could learn a simple technique in one afternoon that would
truly change your life?
What if you could come to understand in a completely new and very
simple way both why and how that technique works?
What if you could begin or reinvigorate a lifetime of joyful
transformative practice that will work its way into every facet of
Discover the answer to all of these questions and more as you bring a
very open mind to an entertaining and unusual dive into the ancient
practice of meditation explained in simple, non-traditional,
non-religious terminology. Meet your mind for the first time. Learn
how to bring yourself along with yourself in everything you do!
Ron Blouch has been helping himself and others transform for the past
18 years. He co-owns a yoga studio with his wife Tina Stroh and has
been teaching meditation since 2007. Having taken over 90 trainings
with 60 different teachers he has seen and heard most everything. Why
does he choose to teach meditation? Because it is the universal tool.
It makes everything better.
Visit Ron on the web here...
Tina Stroh Yoga for Every Body
Gentle yoga classes to help you wake up smiling.
Private yoga sessions are available with Tina. Individual instruction is the way yoga was originally taught. For the beginner or someone with specific injuries or health concerns, it is very beneficial to have the one on one attention and guidance. After practicing for a while, it is beneficial to do an occasional private session to refine your practice as it gives you an opportunity to ask questions and learn how to deepen into poses that have been troublesome or challenging. You may choose to do one or a series of individual classes.
Theatrical Improv for Heart and Soul
You do it everyday. You improv. It’s life. You don’t have to be an actor to experience the joy of improv....“All the world’s a stage”
No theater experience required, AT ALL. This is not about performance, it’s about presence. At the heart of improvisational theater is awareness and attention. This class will take you out of your comfort zone and make you laugh in the process.
In this class you will also:
• practice being present and listening
• be out of your mind
• learn creative ice breakers
• explore techniques for raising energy and creating group cohesion
• open to new levels of creativity
• cut loose, laugh at yourself and maybe even speak a foreign language
Let go of any expectations of yourself and come play.
Tina Stroh, E-RYT®
Tina has eaten Thanks giving dinner in the rainforest of Madagascar, shaken hands with the Dalai Lama, danced with Patch Adams, and gotten kicked out of a Buddhist Monastery. Not exactly “Eat, Pray, Love” !
Tina as been a student of yoga for over 20 years, completed numerous yoga teacher trainings and workshops, and has a BA degree in International Studies and Theatre. While watching the boom of yoga in the U.S. the rise and fall of popular gurus, and having sat with many well-known yogis and heard their insider stories, she has a very different perspective on yoga. Through this unique lens, Tina seeks to use her training in yoga and college degree to help dispel the mysticism without losing the power of the philosophy of the yoga practice.
Tina’s extensive training includes: three trips to India, 200 Hours Interdisciplinary Yoga Teacher Training with Don and Amba Stapleton, and over 400 hours Ashtanga combined training with Beryl Bender Birch, Nancy Gilgoff, David Williams, Edward Clark, and David Swenson. Tina has also studied Sanskrit, Thai Yoga Massage, Vipassana meditation, Herbology, and Reiki.
Transformation happens when we embrace those elements of ourselves that keep us immobile and integrate them with clearly defined expressions of what we are capable of becoming. Writing provides an avenue to both. In journals we can uncover and reflect upon the potential of the events, people, and objects we find meaningful in daily life, and we can begin to shape that meaning into a liberating and actualizing artistic experience. At Renewal, participants will be invited to use their journals as an active part of their experience. We’ll begin each day with some suggestions for journal writing that reflect the themes and topics Jim will be covering in his morning meditations. Then, in the Transformative Writing breakout sessions, we’ll practice approaches and exercises to journaling that can help us more fully explore what such writing can offer.
Rhythm for the Spoken Word with Bryan Fazio
Music and literature represent two of our oldest forms of personal and communal expression. You are warmly invited to join Bryan and myself for a workshop that explores what happens when we bring these art forms together. In a relaxed, friendly, and energetic environment, participants will be invited to create, both individually and as a whole group, rhythm-based, spoken word expressions of their experiences of the weekend. Bring a generous and adventurous heart. Leave your inhibitions at the door.
Matt is a journeyman teacher and writer from Pittsburgh, PA, whose talent lies in helping students find and develop their artistic voices, identify and resolve whatever issues this process uncovers, and replace their doubt and self-consciousness with a more open, honest, and grounded appreciation of what their writing has to offer.
Mandala: An Artful Meditation
Join artist Stephanie Smith as she guides workshop participants through simple rhythmic drawing techniques to create a mandala - a circular art form which can be a powerful tool for meditation and creative self expression.
Self-taught and often referred to as “fearless” by her peers for her bold artistic expressions across multiple media forms, Stephanie’s ultimate goal is to encourage creativity without fear of judgment. Through the use of motivational storytelling, Stephanie will empower and inspire those to wishing to bring art into their lives via an immediately accessible technique regardless of prior art experience.
In “Mandala: An Artful Meditation” you will learn:
• How to set a safe space to create
• Stephanie’s mandala method
• Benefits of creating with intention
• Creating art without self-judgment
• Using mandalas in your journaling
• Making mandalas with found objects
• Choosing the right art supplies for you & your budget.
• What to do when wish to improve the overall quality of your creations.
Over the last five years, visual artist Stephanie Smith has created thousands of mandalas in a diverse range of mixed media as a means to discover her authentic self. She believes that much like any meditative practice, this rhythmic art form has the ability to still the mind and bring into awareness the opportunity for healing and transformative growth at a deep level - effectively allowing a person to take an active role in their personal evolution by making the conscious choice to be creative.
Stephanie is currently a resident artist at The Banana Factory- an arts and education center in Bethlehem, PA.
As a writer, Stephanie is the author of the blog Spiritual Evolution of the Bean - a vast compilation of mandala art, helpful product reviews on a myriad of art and writing supplies, as well as candid reflections on her own spiritual journey.