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The Heart is a Drum Machine: Drumming as Therapy

Article by Robert T. Muller Ph.D.

.Posted Jan. 22nd 2015

".......For individuals coping with depression, anxiety, or trauma, there is something more intuitive and liberating about communicating through music. Some find the combination of group therapy and drumming effective as it brings more contemporary approaches to mental health together with creative and non-judgemental expression of emotions.
Alongside the plethora of research on the effects of music on the brain, studies have found that drumming offers numerous health benefits. For women dealing with eating disorders, children with autism, cancer patients, war veterans living with PTSD, individuals with anger management issues, people with addictions, and even Alzheimer’s patients, drumming offers physical and emotional benefits.
Music therapies are now available in many hospitals and in a variety of counselling settings. More informal drumming circles are becoming increasingly popular within corporate team building and stress management workshops......."
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The Biological Benefits of Drumming

"Try Drumming for Better Health" By Linda Buch

Posted March 20, 2013

From the first time I participated in a drum circle, I recognized something profoundly moving about the experience,” says Dr. Barry Bittman, a neurologist and CEO and medical director of the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, near Pittsburgh.
The current popularity of drumming and participation in drum circles seem to be driven by a human need to reconnect with the beat and vibrations of life. Drumming is also one of those rare physical activities that can have both profound and subtle effects on the entire person. Bittman’s research is demonstrating the benefits of recreational music-making on the drum, including:
  • Improved aerobic and cardiovascular system;
  • Strengthened immune system;
  • Improved mood and reduced burnout of workers under stress;
  • Reversed ravages of stress at the cellular level;
  • Reduced anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness.
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Effects of Group Drumming Interventions on Anxiety, Depression, Social Resilience and Inflammatory Immune Response among Mental Health Service Users

Daisy Fancourt, Rosie Perkins, Sara Ascenso, Livia A. Carvalho, Andrew Steptoe, Aaron Williamon
Published: March 14, 2016
LINK:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151136

Scientists who studied the effects of drumming in two groups (one drummed, the other didn’t) found that drumming reduced depression and anxiety and improved social resilience over six- and 10-week timespans.

LINK TO RESEARCH

 

ADDITIONAL ARTICLES and RESEARCH LINKS:

 


Documented Medical Benefits of Drumming

Stress
Blood samples from participants of an hour-long drumming session revealed a reversal of the hormonal stress response and an increase in natural killer cell activity (Bittman, Berk, Felten, Westengard, Simonton, Pappas, Ninehouser, 2001, Alternative Therapies, vol. 7, no. 1).

Depression
Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study with 30 depressed people over 80 years of age and found that participants in a weekly music therapy group were less anxious, less distressed and had higher self-esteem (Friedman, Healing Power of the Drum, 1994).

Cancer
Subjects who participated in a clinical trial using the HealthRhythms protocol showed an increase in natural killer cell activity and an enhanced immune system. While this does not indicate a cure for cancer, such results may be of benefit for those facing this disease. (Bittman, Berk, Felten, Westengard, Simonton, Pappas, Ninehouser, 2001, Alternative Therapies, vol. 7, no. 1).

Alzheimer�s Disease
According to Clair, Bernstein and Johnson (1995), Alzheimer�s patients who drum can connect better with loved ones. The predictability of rhythm may provide the framework for repetitive responses that make few cognitive demands on people with dementia.

Parkinson�s Diseases and Stroke
Rhythmic cues can help retrain the brain after a stroke or other neurological impairment, according to Michael Thaurt, director of Colorado State University�s Center of Biomedical Research in Music. Researchers have also discovered that hearing slow, steady rhythms, such as drumbeats, helps Parkinson patients move more steadily (Friedman, Healing Power of the Drum, 1994).

Chronic Pain
Chronic pain has a devastating propensity for progressively draining quality of life. Technology and pharmacology are falling short of the mark needed to improve quality of life and reduce pain, according to Dr. Barry Bittman in the Pain Practitioner. (Lingerman, H. 1995, Music and You. In the Healing Energies of Music. Wheaton, Ill.: Theosophical Publishing House).
HealthtBeat of TTM Winston-Salem www.ttmws.com
— http://ttmws.com/benefits2.htm