Painted by my friend Stephanie Smith

Mike Deaton lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He is a performer, a recording artist, an experienced djembe and hand-drum teacher, and a facilitator of music for all ages and experience levels. In his 19 years of making music, he has amassed a large collection of drums and percussion instruments from around the world, and learned to use them to bring people together in harmony.

Mike has spent many years performing West African music around Virginia with the Charlottesville Community Drum Choir. As a part of the national touring group Drum the Ecstatic International, Mike has performed for crowds as large as 5,000 people.

mike deaton jim donovan blue heron
Drum The Ecstatic -- Great Blue Heron Festival, NY

Drum the Ecstatic is a group founded by Jim Donovan, best known as the drummer for the multi-platinum band Rusted Root. The group recently released their first CD, a high-energy recording captured live in concert.

Mike has studied music with many African masters, including world renowned performer and teacher Mamady Keita. He has studied with multiple Grammy winner Glen Velez, Middle-Eastern master Daveed Korup, noted music therapist Barry Bernstein, and attended workshops around the country with musicians and teachers as diverse as Mickey Hart, Ubaka Hill, and Rainbow Eagle, as well as Robert Lawrence Friedman, psychotherapist and author of the groundbreaking book The Healing Power of the Drum.

In addition, Mike has studied extensively with Arthur Hull, the respected father of the modern drum circle movement and author of two books on the subject.

From these experiences, Mike has developed a dynamic, hands-on teaching style that emphasizes joy and creativity. He has spent well over a decade bringing drumming and music programs into classrooms ranging from pre-K to graduate level university students. He has also designed interactive, uplifting musical events for groups of corporate executives, teachers, massage therapists, seniors, and hurricane Katrina survivors, to name a few. Mike has brought his Rhythm Playground to family gatherings, churches, festivals, and office retreats, as well as various state and national conferences.

Working through the Virginia Department of Social Services, Mike has also designed curriculum and provided training sessions to musically empower hundreds of teachers, childcare providers, and others who work with children.

Non-profit work
In addition to his musical experience, Mike also has experience as an Early Learning Specialist.  He has extensive experience working with children of all ages. He spent over four years teaching children and parents about the importance of reading, as part of James Madison University’s Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services. Through that program, using a mobile classroom and bookmobile, Mike fostered learning in thousands of children through read-alouds, interactive storytelling, and art and music activities.

Mike has a strong background in community service. He was a coordinator of a soup kitchen for many years, helped found a non-profit community center called Our Community Place in Harrisonburg, and served on its Board of Directors for several years.

Today Mike uses rhythm and music to bring joy, understanding, and a strong awareness of community to every group he serves. He is also currently a student furthering his own formal education.

Performing with good folks as part of Harrisonburg's Fourth of July Parade
Photo courtesy of