What the research says

More and more evidence is available on the beneficial effects of a mindful practice. It can help across all facets of life and one of the ways to practice mindfulness is through drumming. Key benefits are: Reduced stress, anxiety, improved sleep quality, improved mental health and overall well-being.

Article from Shellee-Kim Gold states:While local drums are used by our own cultural traditions, it is the west African djembe drum with its wide frequency range that is popular in South African drumming circles. And that’s probably due to the fact this drum is in the same range as the earth’s ‘heartbeat’ or electro magnetic field (7,8 megahertz). Meaning the player is automatically put into a ‘grounded’ state, producing feelings of calmness and centredness.

However, we’re not only in communion with the Earth Mother when we play drums, but also with each other.

Trained by a master drummer from Mali, Catherine Welsh of Drumming SA which caters to a lot of corporate functions, said drumming promoted connectedness on many levels between people. “Because you’re not using language – gender, age, religion and language are all transcended – and drumming rhythm becomes the ‘mother tongue’. Even if you’re white”. Additionally, it’s perfect for the shy person who can find their ‘voice’ in the drum.

Amongst the most intriguing research conducted by Dr Barry Bittman in 2001 showed that one hour of group drumming produced a marked increase in white blood cells and cytokines – boosting the functioning of the immune system.

According to Welsh, the most far-reaching benefit of drumming is its ability to take its participants into altered brain states. Research has shown that after 11-13 minutes of drumming at a constant tempo, your brain begins emanating an Alpha state (the relaxation frequency). And after 21 minutes of drumming you can go into a Theta (meditative) state. Welsh said most of us spend too much time in Beta (the stress and focus) state.

“Drumming tends to synchronise the two hemisphere of the brain through rhythmic entrainment where your brainwaves start to echo the rhythm of the drumming – and how you go into Alpha”, she said.

For all the full articles click on the links below.


Various research papers

Do I need a djembe to play along with the drumming?

For anyone just starting out, you can still have some fun and make music without djembe. However, if you want to practice your technique and really feel into the sound quality of a djembe it is better to have your own djembe. There are plenty of second hand djembe’s available or you can even rent a djembe at certain drum shops. Each and every djembe sounds different so it’s best to go into a store and try some out before you buy one.

Drumming Has Positive Impact on Mental Health

Research by the Royal College of Music has found that drumming has a positive impact on mental health, with a 10-week programme of group drumming reducing depression by as much as 38% and anxiety by 20%.

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Mindfulness improves well-being

Clinical Psychology Review study concludes that mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation. The review ends with a discussion on mechanisms of change of mindfulness interventions and suggested directions for future research.

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Drumming for Development: How Drumming Helps Children with Special Needs

Drums and percussion instruments are progressively accessible, physical, sensory, portable, socially interactive, expressive, cultural, and offer a unique aesthetic experience.

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Effects of mindfulness on quality of life

Annals of Behavioral Medicine publishes study that increased mindfulness may, at least partially, mediate the positive effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention.

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Group drumming reduces stress

Clinical study by Dr Barry Bittman shows group drumming reduces stress and lower cortisol levels.

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African Drumming improves academic performance in Teenagers

This research demonstrates the effectiveness of community music such as drumming for reducing anxiety and also for improving academic performance in adolescents.

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Mindfulness meditation improves sleep quality

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences study shows that mindfulness meditation may be effective in treating some aspects of sleep disturbance, and improving sleep quality.

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Mindfulness reduces anxiety

Journal of Occupational Health Psychology published study indicate beneficial effects following training for mindfulness on stress, anxiety and psychological distress, and for well-being and sleep.

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Mindful mediation improves social behaviours

Mindfulness Journal: Clinicians and meditation teachers should be aware that meditation can improve positive pro-social emotions and behaviors.

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The Impact of Group Drumming on Social-Emotional Behavior in Low-Income Children

Participation in group drumming led to significant improvements in multiple domains of social-emotional behavior.

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“A shared energy”: West African drumming fosters cross-cultural understandings in Australia

World Leisure Journal: Exploring another culture helps to dispel myths and encourages discussion that may promote cultural diversity and respect in a multicultural Australia.

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African drumming promotes emotional and social well-being of children aged 7 to 12

The workshops markedly improved participants’ self-esteem and self-confidence, pro-social behaviour, enjoyment, concentration and manifestation of musical capacity (aspects which reflect Gestalt concepts of awareness, contact, self-regulation, self-expression and mastery).

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Mindfulness exercise reduces anxiety

Behaviour Research and Therapy Journal published the first meta-analysis to show that the mere, regular performance of mindfulness exercises is beneficial, even without being integrated in larger therapeutic frameworks.

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