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Drumming

Drumming, rhythm, and all things related.
This article was originally written in 2010, but lately has gotten a lot of attention. I have had drum group facilitators and drum therapists contact me from the U.S., Mexico, and South Africa asking to use this article. (If anyone wants to use this information please ask and I am generally happy to let people use it. It is copyrighted.) I decided it was time to update it slightly, citing a few newer studies regarding the beneficial effects of drumming.
Ten Reasons to Drum for Your Health (Updated 2015)


1. Drumming is for everyone
Drumming does not require advanced physical abilities or specialized talents. It does not require participants to read music or understand music theory. Drumming, even a simple pattern, offers benefits to a huge range of people. Drumming is a universal language. It transcends gender, race, age, and nationality. In fact, nearly every culture on earth has some form of drumming tradition.

Furthermore, group drumming and drum therapy is currently being used for people with brain injuries or impairment, physical injuries, arthritis, addictions, and more. Studies and therapeutic drumming programs are finding numerous health benefits from drumming for at -risk youth, seniors, as well as people with PTSD, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, hypervigilance, and depression.

 
2. Drumming reduces stress and boosts the immune system
Studies have shown that drumming lowers both blood pressure and stress hormones. The active component of drumming helps reduce stress in a number of ways. It’s fun, it’s physical, and it’s a great diversion from other stress-filled activities. If you need to vent, what better way than to hit something?

Drumming is also meditative, inducing relaxed mental states that reduce anxiety and tension. Drumming combined with deep breathing and visualization techniques offers even more stress reduction benefits. “We know that stress takes a toll on the immune system,” says Ann Webster, PhD. “When you’re under stress, blood levels of stress hormones go up and your body is no longer able to make killer cells and other cells of the immune system in the amounts it normally would, and that can lead to disease progression. Reducing stress is very restorative. It gets the system back in balance.”

But lowering stress levels isn't the only benefit. Group music making, including drumming, can actually reverse your body's negative response to stress on a genomic level. A 2005 study ( "Individualized Genomic Stress Induction Signature Impacts" - Barry Bittman, MD.) "looked at the effects of recreational music making at the genomic level and demonstrated not simply a reduction in stress, but a reversal in 19 genetic switches that turn on the stress response believed responsible in the development of common disease." So drumming can have positive effects on us even at a genetic level.

A 2001 study of 111 group drumming participants showed that after just one hour, drumming does boost the immune system. According to cancer expert Barry Bittman, MD, the study found that group drumming actually increases cancer killing cells, which help the body fight cancer and other viruses.

 

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Ten Best Djembe Books and Videos

1. Mamady Keita - A Life for the Djembe (Book and CD) - A comprehensive book containing history, background, and personal info. from Mamady Keita. Dozens of rhythms are transcribed and the accompanying CD has samples of basic djembe and Dunun parts.

2. Rhythms and Songs From Guinea- Famoudou Konate (Book and CD) - Explanation of the djembe and the music tradition of Guinea along with history and a bio. of Famoudou. Many of the elements of Malinke rhythms are explained and several rhythms are transcribed including songs, solos, echauffements and breaks. The rhythms are played on the accompanying CD.

3. Djembe - Percussion From West Africa - Ibro Konate (Book and CD) - Great learning guide for beginner to intermediate players. Contains information on everything from choosing a djembe and basic playing techniques to notes on music structure and vocabulary all explained in a very understandable way. Contains many exercises for helping people play and understand malinke rhythms. 8 rhythms are notated including breaks and solo parts and are played part by part on the CD.

4. Guinee: Les Rythmes Du Mandeng (series) - Mamady Keita (DVD) - Mamady's series of instructional videos each contain 6-8 rhythms with a brief cultural explanation for each. Parts are played traditional style with Dundun, Sangban, and Kenkeni played separately with attached bells. Djembe and dundun parts are played individually and then ensemble (together).

5. Journey Into Rhythm (series) - Karamba Diabate (Video) - Karamba explains the context of each rhythm, then shows each djembe accompaniment and break. Dundun are played ballet style -one person playing all three drums. Each rhythm is shown played live by a full ensemble.

6. Thione Diop Teaches: Djembe and Dunun Rhythms of Senegal (DVD) - Senegalese rhythms introduced and taught by Thione Diop. The video has karaoke style notation so viewers can follow along as it plays. Two djembe accompaniments are shown per song along with separate dunun parts. Each rhythm is shown in slow and fast versions for easy learning.

7. Fara Bakan - Instructional Djembe (DVD) - Fara Tolno teaches six traditional rhythms of the Mande People of Guinea. Each rhythm includes an explanation of its origin and meaning and a breakdown into its specific parts including djembe, dunun, sangban, and kenkeni, each with bell parts. Each rhythm is then performed ensemble style.

8. Made in Guinea, West Africa -Aly Sylla (DVD) - Susu djembefola Aly Sylla, director of Les percussion De Guinea, takes viewers through 6 traditional rhythms including djembe and doundoun parts. The video also provides a glimpse of traditional life and culture in Guinea.

9. Mamady Keita and Sewa Kan Live @Couleur Cafe (DVD) - This performance video showcases Mamady's group Sewa Kan in live performance. Mamady and several guest artists are prominently featured.

10. ? If you think I've missed a book or video that belongs in the top ten, let me know!

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1. Drumming is for everyone
Drumming does not require advanced physical abilities or specialized talents. It does not require participants to read music or understand music theory. Drumming, even a simple pattern, offers benefits to a huge range of people. Drumming is a universal language. It transcends gender, race, age, and nationality. In fact, nearly every culture on earth has some form of drumming tradition.

Furthermore, group drumming and drum therapy is currently being used for people with brain injuries or impairment, physical injuries, arthritis, addictions, and more. Studies are finding numerous health benefits from drumming for people with these conditions.

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Get cool t-shirts, Full Moon Drumming apparel, and Flying Monkey merchandise. Click Here.Monkeyonly

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