Drumming vibes


IMG_2008Saturday morning; a hot sultry day in Matlock. Usually a time of sunbathing and catching up with the family. However, not today.

Jenny and myself went to meet the local “Young at Heart” group who are a keen vibrant bunch of people eager to embrace new ideas and things. Firstly we discussed dementia research and the local services in some detail. Jenny is planning to explore how family caregivers who provide daily care to their loved ones with younger onset dementia  manage their everyday lives. Jenny wanted to discuss her proposed work and also meet members of the group. Individuals spoke candidly about their personal losses and described how they had lost their jobs, family status, independence and belonging. On the plus side they did value the friends made in the group and wished for more regular meetings beyond the once a month.

We then joined a community drum workshop led by Nikki, who works with Making Space. Her enthusiasm was more than infectious; soon we were all engaged in two part rhythms and generally having a grand time. During the workshop we marveled at some of the drumming “naturals” who clearly had a talent for drumming in partner with others. This led to a sense of community as the rhythms took over and we all enjoyed simply being together and focusing on the music. Loud tempos were tempered by percussion instruments which enabled everyone to have a go. Tense expressions were replaced by smiles and the occasional dance as the group members carried on, ignoring their tender palms. We drummed and drummed, smiling at each other and enjoying the sense of achievement.

Current research now shows the therapeutic effects of drumming techniques. Research indicates that drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system. In addition specific studies conducted by professionals in the fields of music therapy and mental health show us that drumming:

  • Reduces tension, anxiety and stress
  • Helps control chronic pain
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Releases negative feelings, blockages and emotional trauma

The New York project EDGE, which incorporates drumming among groups of participants who are living with dementia has shown benefits.Rhythmic activities and therapeutic drumming circles are among the most effective tools we have for creating a communal experience among people with dementia. Rhythm and music strongly predicated on a rhythmic beat allows people to respond to one another, with feeling of competence “in the moment” and often with joy. Participating in a drumming circle allows the person with dementia to take part in a sustained activity. This provides for meaningful sound when communication skills have deteriorated. Family caregivers can also enjoy “being in the moment” where relaxing into the rhythms suspend the everyday worries.

A wonderful meeting which came to an end all too soon. Wouldn’t it be great to have an inter-generational drumming group in Matlock which includes all ages and of course those families affected by dementia?

Drumming pulls people together which is what we all  need in a world of increasing tension.

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