Music is a universal language capable of transcending age, race, and nationality regardless of any existing language barriers that exist between them. At the heart of many types of music is a steadily beating drum, which maintains an even meter and allows the melodies and harmonies to soar. Some form of drumming tradition exists in nearly every culture around the world, meaning just about everyone has the chance to enjoy some of the surprising health benefits of drumming. Take a look at the benefits you may not have known you could experience every time you pick up your drum sticks:
Reduces stress: Listening to music has been shown to lower blood pressure and stress hormones. The act of hitting something is a natural stress reducer, as is listening to a great beat. Combine the two by playing the drums and you have the perfect recipe for reducing stress.
Diminishes anxiety and tension: Drumming is a fun, physical activity that can distract you from whatever is bothering you. It can even be meditative and induce a relaxing mental state. Stepping away from a tense situation and drumming for a while may be just what you need to feel mentally able to tackle the problem head on.
Reduces chronic pain: Assuming your chronic pain doesn’t prevent you from playing the drums, the concentration required to beat out an even rhythm can serve as an effective distraction. Also, since drumming releases endorphins – the body’s natural morphine-like painkiller – drumming is more than just a distraction from chronic pain; it’s a useful, drug-free tool for controlling it.
Produces feelings of well-being: Endorphins are more than just painkillers. They’re a feel-good chemical the brain releases when you participate in certain activities, such as running, dancing, laughing, and yes, drumming. Endorphins lift your spirits and make bad situations seem more manageable. The good feelings you get from physical exercise and being around people you love are what give them their addictive nature. It’s one reason you may find yourself craving a drumming jam session, too!
Boosts your immune system: Have you ever noticed that you’re more prone to getting sick when you’re stressed? The presence of stress hormones in the blood reduces the production of white blood cells, making you more susceptible to illnesses. In this way, by reducing stress, drumming helps to boost your immune system as well! In a drumming music therapy study published by cancer expert Barry Bittman, MD, group drumming sessions revealed the astounding ability to increase the presence of cancer-killing cells in the body.
Releases negative feelings: Patients who suffer from emotional trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, are often prescribed with drum therapy for emotional support. The physical stimulation and sound vibrations help reduce trapped emotions and emphasize self-expression, two fundamental components of rebuilding emotional health after a traumatic event.
Helps you connect with yourself and others: Group drumming is a powerful therapy tool. One of the benefits of drumming is that it helps you connect with yourself as you beat the drum and receive immediate feedback. This non-verbal language is loud and clear. If you play in a band, drumming makes you one of the most important members of the group, the foundation upon which the rest of the band builds to create music. This discourages self-centeredness and isolation, helping you connect with those around you.
Helps you focus on the moment: There are far too many distractions in this modern world. When you sit down to play, there’s nothing but you and the drums. A good practice session requires you to ground yourself in the moment, an important step toward mental health that more of us should pursue every day.
Supports clarity of mind: Playing the drums can help support mental clarity. After all, the predictability of rhythm while playing the drums provides a framework for positive cognitive responses in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients. A study published in the Journal of Music Therapy has shown that these patients also connect better with their loved ones when drumming is a part of their daily routine.
Increases creativity: Under normal circumstances, the two sides of your brain work at differing levels and rates. But playing the drums actually activates both hemispheres and synchronizes alpha brain wave activity. This coordination across both sides of your brain can allow for greater insight and creativity. Unconscious insights may surface while you play the drums that might not have otherwise ever come to mind.
Remember, even though drumming promotes these health benefits, it should not be mistaken for a cure. For example, taking vitamins won’t cure your cold, but taking them regularly can help reduce your susceptibility to viruses in the future.
Still, the health benefits of playing the drums are so broad that you might think drums should be sold in pharmacies. Even if this never actually happens, you can enjoy the benefits of drumming – health-related and otherwise – by finding an experienced, qualified teacher and getting started with learning the drums today!
Photo by veritatem