Imagine a room full of people. They all work together, but other than the few office friendships that stray outside of work, they don’t know each other all that well. Now imagine each of them sitting in a circle, with drums and various percussion instruments in hand, playing a big drum roll together, then breaking into a rhythm that may be reminiscent of a favorite song.
Now change the cast of characters to a group of teenagers, some of which know each other, some of which may hate each other. The rhythm may change, but the drumming goes on.
One more casting change. Change the teenagers to a group of older adults. Again, the rhythm may change, but still the drumming goes on.
The above scenarios are just a few selections from what can happen with group drumming. Drums (and other rhythm instruments of course!) are accessible to everyone. With a little guidance and encouragement, each of us has the ability to be a successful drummer.
But why drum?
Success. In each of the scenes mentioned above, the cast was composed of non-drummers, and the drumming went on. In order for the drumming to go on, success needs to happen. As one of our oldest music making methods, drumming is also the easiest to be successful at. Create a group of people who will experience success simultaneously and you have created a gateway for other drumming benefits.
Teamwork. For the employees, teamwork is necessary to get the job done. For the teenagers, teamwork is necessary to help them develop social skills and supports to stay out of trouble. For the older adults, teamwork is necessary to help them continue to feel connected and social. Drumming manages to accomplish this without having to mention the word teamwork once!
Well Being. When you are drumming, it’s hard to think about everything else. You are focused on creating your sound with the rest of the group, and all of the interactions going on. Feelings of doubt, worries, and apprehension all fade away. As the drumming evolves, so does the group, and each individual within. In fact, research has shown group drumming to be effective against stress, anger, and burnout. It’s even been shown to increase the activity of our immune system.
The research into the benefits of group drumming is really only just beginning. Since drumming is already a part of many music therapist’s toolkits, the number of areas we use it can only grow!
I mentioned two common settings for group drumming the be used therapeutically, but I’d love for you to share more with me! Therapists, what’s another way you’ve drummed? Non-therapists, what setting would you like to drum in?