We focus this month on the power of creating rhythm for children and adult mental and physical health. We hope that you will feel inspired to start making more beats, and bringing rhythm into your workplaces, schools and therapeutic environments – knowing what a difference it can make.
Drumming and rhythm-making are of course found in all cultures, but the practice of African and Indigenous heritage drumming has had a huge influence on the mental health of communities worldwide. We share some inspiring stories below.
What does rhythm making (such as drumming) effect at the level of the BodyMind?
(from Donna Jackson Nakazawa)
- Increases the happiness, love, pain reducing, calming and immune supporting neurotransmitters (dopamine, killer T cells, endorphins, norepinephrine, oxytocin and serotonin) in the brain.
- Creates a felt sense of connection, belonging and security, socially.
- Supports greater neuroplasticity and alters the brain.
- Supports physical, cognitive and social resilience.
- Reduces brain inflammation and decreases cytokines and Cortisol.
- Improves executive functioning capacity of the brain of youth.
- Improves perceptual motor ability, and alpha states.
- Activates mirror neurons.
- Impulse control and perseverance.
- Downshift of flight or fight responses: reducing anxiety and healing PTSD.
Of course, drumming also goes hand in hand with inspiring dancing and singing.
The Moving Child Films features the work of Dance Therapists Dr. Charne Furcron and Laurie Jones, as well as Dr. Renee Ortega. All of these esteemed therapists draw from their cultural roots and allow that expression to make a difference in their communities through dance, song and rhythm making. Please watch a short interview below.
For some inspiring stories on the effects of rhythm in mental health please check out:
How Traditional Djembe Drumming can Heal Trauma, with Francis Agyakwa
Drumming and the Brain: Magic and Science, with Cornell Coley (including information on ‘Toddler Drumming’)
Here are some simple ideas on How to do a Rhythm Circle:
ON THE BODY
(Using hands on legs, belly, back, face or feet or hands on surface), can be self to self or self to other: play with soft and strong, loud and quiet, fast and slow, and on respecting one’s body.
Instruments can be home, store, or musician made.
Sit in a circle, facing one another with eyes open or closed.
Ask each person to take their turn, as they fold into the whole rhythm.
Ideas: Finding steady beats, speeding up, slowing down, finding a “medium” speed.
Vary the intensity, vary the intervals between beats, get inspired by cultural legacies.