Lifetime drummer Marianne Riddle comes from a musical family.
“My sister is an opera singer,” she says, “but I was always kind of shy as a youngster. Then I began drumming. It made me feel good, and I discovered I would rather be in the show than go to the show. Drums became my armor, and I started playing with bands when female drummers were a novelty. I’m an intuitive drummer who advocates the ‘mistake mystique’ — listening to my own heart so the other musicians can follow the beat.”
Because she preferred what she calls “the sounds and the non-commercial vibe” of San Francisco to that of Hollywood, Marianne relocated from L.A. to the City in 1983. She quickly became a founding member of the all-female, avant garde, punk-rock cabaret group Mudwimmin. She played stand-up floor toms, metal percussion instruments, bass guitar, and occasionally sang with the band.
“We even told jokes and stories between sets,” she says. “It was a wild dozen years.”
Fueled by a desire to see the world, Marianne earned a Group Travel Logistics certification from Berkeley City College, and spent five years as an Adventure Specialist, facilitating international wilderness travel groups. After returning to San Francisco following a European trip, Marianne decided it was, in her words, “time to act like a grown up.”
Not long after, she attended a how-to-buy-property seminar.
“This nice guy — an ultra-marathon runner from Peru — sat next to me,” she recalls. “Sparks flew without any words, and my life shifted once again. We moved to Petaluma 15 years ago, and after taking a Mommy-and-Me music class with my infant daughter, I became a licensed KinderMusic educator.”
Eventually, she began offering “Musical Mornings with Mz. Marianne,” at the local senior centers, and served as a music educator and facilitator for the Novato Youth Center and for First 5 California ESL playgroups.
As Marianne and her family grew older, she started other journeys.
“I embraced the ‘REMO HealthRhythms’ group drumming wellness-and-empowerment protocol,” she says, “and while training as a HealthRhythms facilitator, I even dined with drum-maker and wellness advocate Remo Belli himself. I learned to go deep, so that when I facilitate others, drumming becomes the art of allowing.”
Marianne has since utilized her decades of drumming experiences to create unique multigenerational curriculums for her own Adventures in Rhythm Group Drumming Programs. While training with a Peruvian shaman, Marianne learned to use altar vessels and condor feathers to provide what she calls “depth of understanding.” She’s also studied the healing power of trance-dancing from Italian shamanic drummer Alessandra Belloni. With such knowledge, Marianne recently beagn offering “New Moon Drum Circles” every month at Cinnabar Theater.
“My goal is to share this simple, ancient technology with others,” she says. “When I hold a space for people to drum with me, I set up floor toms, frame drums, music beads — a large selection of instruments — and I offer people to try new things or just listen. In my fifth decade of life, I began to appreciate my ability to access that place in my mind, and hear where everything else falls away, so I’m completely in the moment.”
(To learn morea about Marianne Riddle’s classes and events, visit AdventuresinRhythm.com)
What should people know about drumming?
“Our heartbeats are the core,” says Marianne Riddle. “Don’t think. Just pick it up and tap it to find your own rhythm. The rest just flows into place.”