In the The Healing Power of the Drum, Book Two described below, Robert Lawrence makes a distinction between music therapy and drum facilitation. Drumming is being used for both music therapy and wellness drumming. The difference is that the wellness aspect is more holistic health oriented whereas music therapy is more aligned with medical treatment, music theory and principles and diagnosis of conditions, and requires degrees and licensing to treat individuals and their medical conditions.

Drumsoul and other facilitators focused on the health and fitness aspects of drumming and percussion groups are using holistic whole body and mind integration of “systems” based on practices derived from indigenous cultures. For that reason, we will avoid referring to the terms therapy or therapeutic except when quoting authors that incorporate actual therapeutic aspects into their research and practices.

Therapeutic Effects of Drumming (website)

article by Michael Drake

Drum therapy is an ancient approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression.

From the shamans of Mongolia to the Minianka healers of West Africa, therapeutic rhythm techniques have been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Current research is now verifying the therapeutic effects of ancient rhythm techniques.

Recent research reviews indicate that drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system and produces feelings of well-being, a release of emotional trauma, and reintegration of self.

Other studies have demonstrated the calming, focusing, and healing effects of drumming on Alzheimer’s patients, autistic children, emotionally disturbed teens, recovering addicts, trauma patients, and prison and homeless populations.

Study results demonstrate that drumming is a valuable treatment for stress, fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental illness, migraines, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, paralysis, emotional disorders, and a wide range of physical disabilities.

Therapeutic Effects of Drumming Retrieved (2016) from

Product Details

Product Details

In The Healing Power of the Drum (2000), psychotherapist and drum facilitator Robert Lawrence Friedman weaves an tapestry of personal experience, fascinating anecdotes and compelling research, demonstrating the hand drum’s capacity to provide significant health benefits for everyone. This breakthrough book examines the use of hand drums in treating at-risk adolescents, stressed-out employees, Vietnam veterans, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and more.

The Healing Power of the Drum. (2016). Retrieved from

HealthRhythms Program 

The HealthRHYTHMS Protocol is the foundation of our HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming Program, and consists of a series of 10 steps participants are guided through to facilitate communication and personal expression. Research has shown the results can include: increase in natural killer cell activity, reduction in stress and burnout rates, improvement in mood states, enhanced creativity and bonding, and more.

Our goal is to establish group drumming as an integral “whole person” component for use in conventional healthcare and wellness environments. These environments include: hospitals, schools, outpatient facilities, clinics, drug & alcohol rehab centers, nursing homes, wellness centers, community outreach organizations, assisted living units, senior centers, prisons, juvenile rehabilitation programs and more. Wherever wellness outcomes are sought, HealthRHYTHMS can be a useful tool.

HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming. (2016). Retrieved from

HealthRhythms Research Summary 
Numerous research studies have been published in peer reviewed journals which demonstrate the health & wellness benefits of our research-based HealthRHYTHMS Recreational Music-Making (RMM) protocol. HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming is Remo’s internationally acclaimed research-based RMM program and is the basis for this research.
HealthRHYTHMS Research Summary. (2016). Retrieved from

Christine Stevens: Drumming for Health (Click to View pdf)
The journal of the Percussive Arts Society • Vol. 51, No. 2 • March 2013

In her book Music Medicine: The Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound, Stevens devotes a chapter to rhythm. In researching that chapter, she discovered something interesting. “I found that it’s not what rhythm does for us that’s so important, it’s what it undoes. We tend to overlook the power of rhythm and drumming as a tool to undo stress. It undoes the sense of separation. It undoes some of the body’s stress responses. When I looked at the research, I found two big trends that indicate that our bodies are really wired for rhythm. Entrainment studies by Dr. Michael Thaut at Colorado State University, where I received my masters degree, showed that an external rhythm cue in a metronome or embedded in music immediately improves the walking patterns of Parkinson’s patients or individuals who’ve had a stroke and who are limping or unbalanced in their gait. And these people are not putting forth any effort; they are just walking to the beat in the music. It’s because of the connection of rhythm to the body. The rhythm seems to immediately undue the negative effects of the disorder.

Another interesting trend is in the area of fitness research. Studies have shown that we actually put out 15 percent less effort when we exercise to rhythm that matches our movement. I’d like to have 15 percent more energy! Rhythm inspires people’s bodies to move, so we have that on our side.


Music Medicine: The Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound
by Christine Stevens, MSW, MT-BC

Foreword by Joan Borysenko, PhD

About the Book

Music Medicine provides a thoroughly researched, accessible, and practical guide for therapists, healing practitioners, musicians-and anyone interested in music for health and spiritual growth. Drawing from a wealth of research and her own pioneering healing work in some of the most challenging places around the world, Stevens invites readers to discover:

  • Accessing the four elements of music-rhythm as medicine for the body, melody for the heart, harmony for the soul, and silence for the mind
  • Why making music accelerates our ability to heal and change
  • Healing playlists-each chapter features valuable download recommendations and links for selecting healing music
  • The drum massage, creating your power song, full-body listening, and other effective and enjoyable practices

Featured more than 50 audio tracks and over 40 guided practices to use music for mind, body, heart, soul and spirit!!!

The body is a powerful rhythmic convergence of multiple beats working together in the groove of life. We breathe, talk, eat, chew, sleep, wake, and move to a rhythm.We are walking, talking, ticking, tocking polyrhythms of multiple beats. We embody rhythm in the pulmonary rhythm of breathing, the cardio rhythm of the heartbeat, and the circadian rhythm of sleeping and waking. Brain rhythms are measured in electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns, neural rhythms occur in firing patterns, and women’s hormonal rhythms follow their menstrual cycles.
We must marvel at the rhythmicity of the human body and recognize why our bodies are so driven by rhythm. Perhaps these inner rhythms are why we all have an innate sense of timing in our bodies.We may experience this timing when we wake up just before the alarm clock goes off. This rhythm is the primal basis of our biorhythmic human nature—our rhythmical intuition—and is further evidence of our body’s innate musical knowledge.
The medicine of rhythm is as much what it undoes as what it does. Rhythm is a healing force that takes us out of our minds and into our bodies, tuning out cerebral thought and activating instinctive primal knowledge.

Christine describes 4 rhythms of life: the heartbeat, breathing, walking and rocking, and how these body rhythms are stimulated by music and how they combine into polyrhythms:

Four Rhythms of Life
We know rhythm from our bodies, and rhythm helps us be reconnected to our body’s wisdom. …The following are just a few examples of four rhythms we know from being alive that define the movement of life.
1. Heartbeat. The heartbeat rhythm is primal—the mother of all rhythms and the rhythm we first heard inside our mother’s womb.The groove of life ranges from a resting heart rate of seventy-two beats a minute, or adagio, which literally means “at ease’ to andante, or moderate, like a walking pace.
2. Breathing. The beat of breathing is a natural balanced pattern of inhale and exhale. Breathing is the rhythm of life that gives the body the chance to receive and release. How we breathe creates great impact on our health, and our breath is a barometer of our state of being. Relax, and we breathe more deeply. Under stress, our breath becomes shallow.
3. Walking. Walking is a two-beat pattern, a double beat, which in music is called “duple meter.”The walking beat has a masculine energy, like marching forward, feeling a sense of linear movement, straight ahead.
4. Rocking. Rocking back and forth or swaying creates a soothing, more feminine groove. We all know it from the motion of being rocked as babies. .. Rocking is a triple meter or three-beat pattern.
Life’s rhythms do not exist separately; they are woven together in a multitasking groove of polyrhythm, a word that means “many rhythms.” The art of polyrhythm is felt in the way two different rhythms coexist and ultimately come together. Even in a composition of seemingly different beats, there is periodic alignment, much like with our body rhythms. The duple meter of the walking beat and the triple meter of the rocking beat line up every twelfth beat, creating a reverberating “one” where the pulse is felt the strongest. An underlying consistent pulse ties it all together.

Music Medicine: The Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound
(2016.). Retrieved from

“Arthur Hull, the leading facilitator of drum circles, presents empowering lessons and insights on the essence of drumming, rhythm and pulse. Lessons include how to create the basic tones, strokes and rhythmic patterns on African style drums, plus making in the moment music with drums, voices and clapping” (See Amazon link above)

According to Arthur, indigenous cultures provide the origin of rhythms, healing music and percussion, and provide a guide to using community drumming for wellness:

When you play with a group that wants to go to that place and create the magic of being in the same place at the same time, together, you create that natural phenomenon called “entrainment.” Your group is “entrained” when you are in rhythmical alignment with each other.
When we are there, thoughts stop. When thoughts stop, time stops, and healing starts. We connect beyond our intellects, in a primal kinesthetic dance that is expressed using sound, and by doing so we facilitate the bonding of our spirit connections in the circle.

We come together to share ourselves in music and rhythm and to give and get an intimate rhythmical massage, a massage that goes deeper than the vibration of the drums, going through our skin and muscles to our bones. The vibration of the rhythms goes to those stuck places in our lives, in our hearts, in our souls, and massages them back into movement and health.

Lack of the movement of energy creates “dis-ease.” Movement of energy facilitates healing. When a group of people come together in a circle with focused intent, they facilitate the flow of the power that makes things happen. When you add drums as a vehicle for that focus, the drums enhance our power to improve our health, our lives, and the very essence of our beings. *

* Hull, Arthur. Guide to Endrummingment, pg 24. S.l.: Alfred Pub Co, 1994. Print