The sound of rhythm has been with us since we were conceived in our mother’s womb. We listened to the rhythm of our mother’s heartbeat and that’s the first sound introduced to our senses. As humans, we move along with the rhythms of nature - from birth, aging to death, just as the seasons change in rhythms. This rhythm of life is also our source of well-being. This makes drums a potential instrument as a way to heal our bodies and minds.
Drumming through the ages
From the earliest of human history, drums have been the centre of social and cultural activities all over the world. Although drums in their earliest use were not for creating music or entertainment. Instead, it played a key role in rituals and religious ceremonies, to express and communicate with the divine. Otherwise, drums have been used to drive away dangers - from predatory animals to enemies.
Ancient shamans use drums for their rituals. With a fast-paced 4-7 beats per second rhythm, the shamanic drumming profoundly alters brain states. The two hemispheres of the brain operate at different levels and at different rates. The steady beat of shamanic drumming permeates the entire brain and brings both hemispheres into rhythmic balance. The balance between both hemispheres brings about healing.
Benefits of drumming for health
Music therapists and therapy programs have increasingly used drums and rhythm to promote well-being. Research has shown that drumming helps to accelerate physical healing such as boosting the immune system, reducing stress, fatigue, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, dementia, migraines, cancer to multiple sclerosis. It has also been shown to help people with learning difficulties, recovering addicts, troubled teenagers, and prisoners.
The reason behind its many benefits is because drumming promotes the production of endorphins, nature’s own morphine-like painkillers. Drumming, like deep meditation, brings the two brain hemispheres into synchronisation, creating feelings of euphoria and flowing creativity.
How drumming affects our brainwave
During normal activities, our brainwaves operate at a level of a Beta rhythm or wave, which is 14 to 20+ cycles per second. When we relax, our brains slow to the Alpha wavelength, which is 7 to 14 cycles per second. The Alpha state is connected to a feeling of relaxation and well-being. Dr. Barry Quinn, a clinical psychologist who runs neurofeedback for stress management estimates that as much as 30% to 40% of the population is unable to regularly attain the Alpha state.
He found that one of his patients, a Vietnam war veteran, was unable to generate Alpha in his brainwave patterns at all. He has long suffered from stress, PTSD, and insomnia. But during a 40 minutes session of slow, gentle drumming session, the patient managed to double his Alpha brainwaves.
It is no wonder that in every culture in the world, drumming has been a key instrument in ritual use. A drum is so simple an instrument to help our brains attain a state of balance and to heal and increase our well-being.
If you are interested in learning drums or world music percussion, get in touch with us at Ritmo Music Studio for a free trial lesson!