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At the age of 14 Sally Childs-Helton put down the flute, picked up drum sticks, and has never looked back. In her mid-teens she received a drum set from parents who believed that girls could indeed play drums. She also went to Hawaii, where she discovered musics unlike any she had ever heard. She was infatuated. While her peers were playing rock in high school, Sally was playing jazz and classical music. She majored in music education and percussion performance as an undergrad, and then spent way too much time in graduate school at Indiana University studying ethnomusicology, not because it was a good job move, but for the sheer love of it.

Sally continues to study with musicians from many different musical and cultural backgrounds; her teachers include David Darling and Glen Velez. She is a certified Music for People guided music improvisation teacher, and she teaches and conducts workshops in hand drums and ethnic percussion, music improvisation, and creativity. Sally also teaches ethnomusicology and world music at the university level, and accompanies dance, theater, and choruses. She has facilitated workshops and concertized with her husband Barry around the U.S. and in Canada and Britain. Sally is proud to be a co-founder of the Midwest Drumming and Dance Festival, and she does a Women's Drumming Weekend annually at Oakwood Retreat Center outside Muncie. In her daily guise she's a not-so-mild-mannered archivist.

As a self-professed sound junkie, Sally believes almost anything can (and should) be a percussion instrument. She especially enjoys working with beginners of all ages and "re-beginners," helping them discover the joy she finds in playing music, and she will play almost any kind of music with almost anyone. Sally especially enjoys jazz, new age, classical (especially 20th c.), and all world musics. And she's having big fun with Wild Mercy, adding as many world music components as possible into the Celtic tradition. As her husband Barry is fond of saying, "It's all Earthling music."

Besides playing music, Sally's favorite hobbies are sleeping, bicycling, discovering the unified field theory, demolition derby racing, and looking for the perfect "magic" bodhran tipper.

Contact Sally

   "My Music"
I will have music, I will, I will.
Music of drumming, the roar in the drum
that comes between the hitting sticks
constant and nowhere as lions in darkness.
I will have roaring. I will have singing
like green sap sticks in the stinging fire,
shrill, shrill, and sweet to kill,
I will have high loud singing, I will.
I will drum the roar until I break the drumhead.
I will sing shrill tll the fire's dead.
  -- Ursula K. le Guin

Jazz is not dead,
it just smells funny.
  -- Frank Zappa

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