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Home > Music Interest > Music Stories

Group Drumming and Music Therapy

8 Therapeutic Elements of Group Drumming

  1. Drumming is accessible
    it provides successful experiences to everyone - young to old, handicapped to normal, people with no music experience.
  2. Drumming is good music
    it involves improvising beautiful music.
  3. Drumming is expressive
    it helps to control and release emotions and stress.
  4. Drumming is physical
    it involves coordination of the body and mind, and is good exercise.
  5. Drumming is powerful
    the drum represents power so people feel empowered to play it.
  6. Drumming is communication
    it is a universal language.
  7. Drumming is bonding
    it creates a feeling of support and connection.
  8. Drumming is cognitive
    it requires perception, attention, and memory.

Group Drumming Research (Bittman et al, 2001)

Preliminary Groups:

  • Resting control - reading magazines
  • Listening control - listened to drumming
  • Basic drumming - drumming teacher
  • Impact drumming - more drumming, less teaching
  • Shamanic drumming - meditation oriented
  • *Composite drumming - success-building activities using percussion & drumming that combine 7 proven health strategies:
    • nurturing/support
    • exercise
    • expression
    • guided imagery
    • sirituality
    • camaraderie
    • music making

What we studied

  1. Natural Killer cells
    specialized white blood cells of our innate immune system that seek out and destroy cancer cells and virally-infected cells.
  2. Cytokines
    Interleukin II and Gamma Interferon proteins essential for cellular defense mechanisms produced by Type I Helper (Th1) cells.

What we found with composite group drumming

  1. Natural Killer cell activity was boosted in subjects who drummed compared to controls.
  2. Natural Killer cell activity stimulated by Cytokines (orchestrators or modulators of immune function) was boosted in subjects who drummed compared to controls.

GROUP EMPOWERMENT DRUMMING is a comprehensive whole-person evidence-based therapeutic approach.

Our Philosophy

  • Group drumming is not about inspiring successful drumming
    it's about inspiring successful living.
  • Group drumming is not about exceptional performance
    it's about exceptional support and personal expression.
  • Group drumming is not about teaching people to play
    it's about giving people permission to play.
  • Group drumming's best facilitators are not necessarily talented performers
    they are caring, compassionate and intuitive guides.
  • Group drumming is not about becoming an expert drummer
    it's about sharing for the sake of personal empowerment.

7 Steps for Facilitating Group Empowerment Drumming

  1. Begin with the end in mind.
  2. Discover your own rhythm first.
  3. Listen to your group.
  4. Connect on many levels.
  5. Guide rather than lead.
  6. Inspire rather than perform.
  7. Create the healing metaphor.

Rhythm Activities

  1. Shaker Breaker
    Breaking the ice by doing this game where we pass the shakers around the circle to a rhythm.
  2. Shaker Share
    The facilitator begins a simple rhythm on their drum. Everyone makes up their own part & motion using shakers. One person is selected for the group to imitate. Then we return to everyone making up their own part again.
  3. Play your Name
    Have each play the rhythm of their name. Whole group echoes it back to them.
  4. Guided Imagery Drumming
    Start with a brief relaxation exercise. After beginning your story, provide a soft accompaniment.