Therapeutic Drumming, by Steve Benedetto

Before delving into the whole subject of therapeutic drumming as the title points out, it is necessary to consider some terms that will shed a light on us for the better understanding of this issue, the first one is musicology, which is the science whose object of study is music itself and all the human practices that involves music. Music therapy, will be explained in mayor detail later. Musicology is a science supported by different disciplines and auxiliary sciences such as history, anthropology, sociology, ethnography, semiotics and psychology which in turn are used as tools to carry out musical research and investigation.

Within the broad field of musicology is the study of musical psychology, which in turn understands what music therapy is, a practice as old as music itself, but the formal documentation about it is pretty recent, dating between 1900 and 1950 from the hand of Emile Jacques Dalcroze who affirmed that the human organism is capable of being educated effectively according to the impulse of music. However, in previous dates a lot of material was written about the healing qualities of music, not only from the physical aspect but also the spiritual, some of this documentation even dates from the days before Christ, but it was not until the twentieth century that it managed to establish as a discipline.

Then, music therapy is "the judicious and structured use of music or musical activities by a trained professional, which aims to restore, maintain or improve the physical, emotional, social, cognitive and psychological well-being of a person" Vaillancourt ( 2009, p.50).

Having these concepts clear, we can go into what the title concerns us: therapeutic drumming. The percussion instruments are perhaps the oldest instruments that exist, in fact, they are the first of which are recorded in the history of mankind. It is for this reason that there is a great familiarity with this particular instrument, it doesn’t matter if you’re not a musician; human beings are exposed to pulsations and beats even before birth, while a baby gestates in the womb of its mother the first sounds it perceives are heart beats.

At birth we return to the most primitive practice of percussion, from hearing the beats of our own heart to using our hands either to clap or to make them sound with other parts of the body. Percussion is the first instrument we learn, with the difference that we use our body and not drums.

Neuroscience has also made big contributions to this kind of therapy. Neurologist Barry Bittman and music therapist Christine Stevens developed a program called ‘Healthy Rhytms’, in which they reveal that playing drums recreationally provides not only simple benefits such as decreasing stress but also increasing the production of cancer-destroying cells in the body. Bittman says playing drums synthesizes our biology, organizes our immunity and allows healing to begin.
Some find these therapies highly effective within the contemporary field of mental health, as they focus on the creative and non-judgmental expression of emotions. This method has been used to treat children with autism, women with eating disorders, war veterans with post-traumatic stress, anger management, patients with addictions and even Alzheimer's.

The musicians, musicologists and music therapists from this fact have developed methods implementing the use of different types of drums for several areas not only of music education, but also medicine and psychology, seeking to restore physical well-being as well as mental health.

Gary Diggins, a sound therapist original from Ontario states that we are the last people on the planet to discover what ancient cultures have known for thousands of years: The act of playing drums contains a therapeutic potential to relax the tense, energize the tired and calm the emotionally wounded. Therapeutic drumming takes place in the form of practical group workshops in which it is not necessary to have even basic knowledge of music, during these workshops the expression of emotions is promoted, self-knowledge, coordination, improvement of mood and concentration.

Nowadays, music therapists are found in hospitals and in different counseling environments, even in communities and neighborhoods this has become an increasingly popular informal practice.

More info:

Vaillancourt, M. (2009). Música y musicoterapia. Madrid: Narcea.


Therapeutic Drumming, by Steve Benedetto Therapeutic Drumming, by Steve Benedetto Reviewed by Respectful Beats™ on Friday, January 26, 2018 Rating: 5

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