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Drumming for well-being: Lost in the beat and feeling good


Beating Illness… With A Drum

Beating IllnessDaughter Emily plans to be a Music Therapist once she has completed her degree and certification requirements. In the meantime, Emily really enjoys every opportunity to explore ways to promote health with therapeutic music. One such use of music stems from ancient times, the drumming circle where participants are beating illnesses together by beating drums and sharing moments. That is until Emily took Dad to a drumming circle.

To be fair, Dad had been to drumming circles in the past as part of his interest in the internal martial arts (Tai Chi in particular). To be extra fair, Emily knows that Dad has always marched to the beat of a different drummer. And that drummer showed up one beautiful spring evening when the drumming circle began to form. Emily followed the group rhythm, deftly playing with minor fourths (or something) while Dad did “his” thing and brought brand new dimensions and riffs to the drumming circle… or to hear Emily tell it Dad couldn’t keep a beat if it was on a leash.

Other than embarrassing a beloved child, there is really no downside to a drumming circle… like many activities that can promote health. Being part of a community. Expressing oneself. Moderate physical activity. These are all beneficial and must be taken more seriously as healthcare professionals give more attention to “social determinants” of health. Considered on the whole, the drumming circle was at least fun and as the article points out there are more benefits.

The health benefits of drumming in a group are measurable, Clegg says later, citing research by the drum manufacturing company Remo Inc.’s HealthRHYTHMS program, a global initiative for which she teaches here. Data, she says, correlates drumming with a stronger immune system and lower stress levels, among other things. One study, initiated by the manufacturer and conducted by neurologist Barry Bittman, medical director of the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, Pennsylvania, found that drumming “significantly increased the disease fighting activity of circulating white blood cells,” according to Remo’s website.

While that research is backed by a drum manufacturer, those who drum in groups attest to the physical benefits.

“It’s therapeutic. At the end you feel replenished, and refreshed. It’s a mind-body experience,” said Laufer, who has been participating in drum groups for years.

Clegg, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in environmental education, says drummers’ brainwaves align when they play in a group, a physics law called “entrainment,” creating a strong sense of community.

For more information please see the original article: Drumming for well-being: Lost in the beat and feeling good

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