• Mai Abe, MT-BC

Benefits of Group Drumming

Drumming and singing are some of the most accessible ways we can utilize music in our daily lives. Oftentimes people think you need to be a musician or have a “sense of rhythm”, but in reality, everything from our heartbeat to the way we walk reflects our innate rhythm! I wanted to talk about the benefits of group drumming today because this is something that we can all do without too much of a learning curve. You don’t even necessarily need a drum, as body percussion is a great way to get started. Your body is your instrument, and all you need is a willingness to work together and try new things.

Drumming Reduces Anxiety and Depression Symptoms

One research study stated that volunteers who participated in a 90-minute group drumming session for 10 weeks showed a 38% drop in depression symptoms and a 20% drop in anxiety symptoms. Not only that, but these effects lasted for up to three months! When we get a chance to create with others in a supportive, encouraging environment, we can boost feelings of belonging and acceptance. Drumming also gives us a different form of expression and communication that we may not be able to access in other situations. This is huge! Anxiety and depression affect a large percentage of the world’s population, but only a small number actually receive treatment for it. The cost of treatment, especially in the United States, makes it inaccessible for most people. If we can start using alternative treatments such as group drumming, we could possibly make mental health care more of a priority for everyone.


Drumming Improves Your Immune System

We know that drumming makes us feel good, but it also has an effect on our immune system! One study suggested that group drumming increased participants’ NK cell activity and DHEA-to-cortisol ratios. NK cell activity is crucial for women to protect against breast cancer, and DHEA-to-cortisol ratios improve our immune response to AIDS, the flu, and West Nile virus. The most profound effects were actually found in groups that were run with a music therapist. Bittman, the researcher, thinks the effects on that group were the strongest because participants were given some instruction, they were given time to relax, and the instructor told them to express themselves through the drumming without worry about whether they were doing it "right" or "wrong." So, even though getting your friends together for a group drumming jam is a great idea, you should definitely find your nearest music therapist to help you facilitate the session!


Drumming is Great Exercise!

I recently found out that Cardio Drumming is a thing. If you’re doubting me, check out this video:


I honestly thought this was crazy for a little bit until I actually did my research. One study measured the heart rate of participants before and after a drumming session and it was comparable to a low-to-moderate level cardiovascular exercise!

It might not be the same as a high-intensity workout, but I think that combined with the mental and immune system benefits, this is a great overall workout for both your mind and body. It’s also more easily accessible for people that may have more difficulty moving their bodies. I’ve mentioned in a previous video that drumming can be a great way to improve lateral arm movements and keep your joints limber.


As you can see, drumming has great benefits, both mental and physical. Even though many of these studies have been under the guidance of music therapists, it’s clear that creating music in a supportive, encouraging environment can be beneficial for us all.


Drumming and Anxiety/Depression https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4790847/

Drumming and Your Immune System

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11191041

Drumming as Exercise

https://journals.lww.com/jcardiovascularmedicine/Abstract/2014/06000/African_drumming___a_holistic_approach_to_reducing.2.aspx


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