Research on Drumming, Rhythm and Healing
Another classmate, Lynn Colwell, told me about drumming research by Dr. Barry Bittman and showed me a paper she had written on African healing rhythms. When I searched for more information, I found quite a lot.
Drummers in the Bittman study were given two psychological tests: the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory, which showed they felt less stress and less depression after drumming.
In The Healing Power of the Drum, Robert Friedman quotes drummer Layne Redmond, author of When the Drummers Were Women: "As the two hemispheres begin to resonate to a single rhythm, …the individual is able to draw on both the left and the right hemispheres simultaneously. The mind becomes sharper, more lucid…."
In recent years, major articles describing the healing effects of drumming have appeared in newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times, The Yoga Journal and Newsweek. A Newsweek cover article, "Your Child's Brain" (February 19, 1996), detailed the scientific evidence that the brain has a fundamental need for rhythm and described the stress produced when the brain is deprived of that basic need.
Even just listening to drumming has a relaxing affect and can cure headaches and relieve other stress-related conditions. Furthermore, researcher Melinda Maxfield has shown that a steady rapid 4.5 beats per second (300 beats a minute) can slow listeners’ brainwaves down into theta, the level of deep trance and rapid learning.
Actually doing drumming has even more powerful effects on the body. Drumming has measurably improved the functioning of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s, stroke, Alzheimers, and other serious conditions.
Evidence now proves that stress contributes to all disease and is a primary cause of many life-threatening illnesses, including heart attacks, strokes, and immune system breakdown. Drumming for an hour improves the body’s physical reactions to stress and strengthens the immune system at the cellular level.
So how do you take advantage of these great benefits?