What Is Drum Therapy?

What is Drum Therapy and Art Therapy?

You may have heard the term, “whole health”, used in the recent past. The idea behind whole health is an affirmation regarding the relationships between the patient, his healthcare provider, the community around the patient, and the range of treatment options that are available to the patient including self-care.

The pandemic of 2020 accelerated the importance of integrating a whole health approach to the entire healthcare system across the United States. Patients who would have regular visits with their healthcare providers suddenly found themselves without access to those visits or severely limited to the care they were used to.

Rewind to 2015. Former Navy Corpsman, Trevor Meyer, is struggling with his own mental health challenges. He was receiving in-patient treatment at the Cleveland VA when he realized there some small gaps but significant gaps in his treatment. In particular during the evening when treatment was over and an entire ward of patients would huddle around a single TV.  Nighttime can be a trigger for depression, PTSD, and anxiety and he wanted to find a way to help himself navigate through his own thoughts. He had brought a practice pad for drumming with him and found it was the perfect companion for those quiet times. It helped him stay focused on his treatment and, before long, he found many of the other patients were drawn to his drumming and were becoming more interested in what he was doing than what was on TV. At that moment he had an epiphany about drumming and its whole health potential. 

Immediately upon finishing his in-patient treatment Trevor went on a discovery process on how to bring the therapeutic potential of drumming to others who might benefit from it as well.

drumming as a scientifically proven method of therapy

Drumming has been studied by several large universities and institutes specifically to analyze its potential as a source of meaningful and productive therapy. The studies found, one after another, that drumming offers strong evidence of healing in nearly every application. 

Drumming for Mental Trauma

Drumming encourages and facilitates the release of inner trauma. It does so through both the physical aspect of drumming and the mental counterpart of entrainment. Entrainment is defined as the practice of becoming more “in tune” with one’s self and the world around them through rhythmic activities. It’s been shown that entrainment helps people suffering from mental challenges open up to the world around them, release traumatic experiences through expression, and when done as a complement to traditional therapy, allows the patient to open up to their therapist or healthcare provider. 

Drumming for Physical Trauma

The physical benefits associated with drumming are probably a little more self-evident. Drumming uses all parts of the human body and can be employed in either low or high-impact settings. From post-op physical therapy, weight loss, to just getting in shape, there are endless benefits drumming provides for those who need a little movement in their life.

Why Drumming?

Aside from communicating through grunts, music is most likely humanity’s earliest form of artistic expression, and the first music anyone ever made was banging a stick against a rock; We’ve all evolved from drummers. 

You use it to express your feelings without words. We snap our fingers, drum our fingers on our desks, and tap our feet. Drumming comes naturally to everyone and is easy to pick up. Some instruments, such as the piano and guitar, can incur a large amount of frustration to learn the basics. Not so with drumming. You can pick up a drum and play it within seconds.

The notion that some people don’t have rhythm is non-sense. Everyone can play the drums. The heart is nature’s metronome – if you have one of those (which you probably do) you can drum!

Do Your Own Research

We’ve written this article to expose more people to the benefits of drumming, but we don’t want to be salespeople. We’d rather you do your own research and learn for yourself. Feel free to google “the Science Behind Drumming” for yourself.

If you are an administrator and would like to talk to Warrior Beat about a program please use our contact form to get a hold of us. If you would like to donate to the Warrior Beat cause, please visit our donations page.

Warrior Beat featured on ABC 5 News

CANTON, Ohio — Inside Warrior Beat’s Wellness Center in North Canton, there’s veterans of all different backgrounds.

“We have Vietnam veterans, Afghanistan, Iraq,” said Trevor Meyer, the co-founder of Warrior Beat.

But despite their differences, it’s clear, they have all faced similar struggles when they left the military and entered back into fast-paced life after service.

Ashley Priest spent time in the Ohio Army National Guard.

“I didn’t really realize it at first. I just was kind of going through the motions, but it took some time for me to really realize the effects of being in the military,” she said. “I was just kind of thrown back into real life again. I had to go back to work and go back to school and take care of my kids.”

For Terry Blackburn, a Vietnam vet who was wounded in combat, it was a similar issue.

“Once your back, you’re just thrown into everything again,” he said. “When I got out of Vietnam, it was not a very popular war, not a lot of things going on for veterans at that time.”

It’s common for vets to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance abuse issues, feelings of loneliness and isolation. For Meyer, who spent time as a U.S. Navy corpsman, he used drumming to cope with those issues and the idea of “Warrior Beat” was born.

“Seeing the way drumming can transform somebody’s life, their well-being. It’s huge for me,” he said.

Warrior Beat is a nonprofit dedicated to group drumming and meditation for veterans. Studies show that drumming can increase happiness, pain tolerance and relationship skills. It can also decrease the effects of PTSD.

Priest credits it for helping her cope.

“It’s been an important part of my life for the past year. I pretty much come every week to the drum circles,” she said.

Blackburn, who has been a drummer his whole life, knows all too well how much drumming can help anyone who is struggling.

“There’s a lot of therapy that comes with that being able to express yourself,” he said.

Meyer said the meditation that he leads the group in after every session, is a big part of the healing process.

“Being able to come together and sit in silence and focus on our breathing is huge if you’re struggling with PTSD, substance abuse issues… calming yourself and finding that tranquil space can be very difficult,” said Meyer.

The group meets every Thursday in Canton but is expanding to the Cleveland VA Center in February.

It also offers live streams of the sessions online for vets who are homebound or don’t feel comfortable coming out to the workshop. Those vets get a drum delivered to their homes.

If you’d like to donate to the group head to Warriorbeat.org