Everywhere you go, there is a rhythm that surrounds you. The songs on the radio or your iPod, the pace of your steps as you grab lunch or enter a classroom, the stop-and-go traffic pattern that signals your late arrival to work, again, are all measured reminders of the presence of the rhythm of life. These rhythms illustrate more than the string of activities experienced throughout a day, but also bring a sense of comfort and peace in the regular pace of life that continues to drive us forward.
Drumming has been a part of life since ancient times, when drumming was used by tribal cultures to communicate across distances as well as celebrate and mark important events in the lives of those cultures. Some drums, such as the Djembe, were used in peaceful times, bringing a sense of unity and love between members of a tribe, as well as camaraderie amongst the various tribes throughout West Africa. Drumming, however, was not all about building familial ties, and was also an important tool for the defense and protection of land. The utilitarian tenacity of drumming, whether during war or peace times, led to a diversification of purpose that was best illustrated through specific rhythms that were handed down through the generations. These rhythms became a part of the tribal tapestry that inevitably led to the evolution of drums and inspired many of today’s modern sounds, including Latin, pop, rock, jazz and world music.
Not only has drumming influenced modern music, but the act of drumming itself has become more than a novelty resigned to new age communities. Drum circles are becoming popular ways to “break the ice” in social settings, while many corporations and businesses are utilizing the “team building” benefits of drumming to help strengthen relationships among employees. In health and wellness circles, drumming has been proven effective in reducing stress, anxiety and pain, as well as helping disabled adults and children experiencing issues with speech and communication, or impaired motor skills. Research has specifically noted the benefit of drumming for those with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Autism, and ADD/ADHD.
Promising a wealth of benefits that go beyond the musical application of rhythm, drumming is not only a reminder of the inherent connection people have with each other and the earth itself, but drumming also teaches its own lessons to those hitting the skins of a djembe, or listening to an amazing conga solo. Drumming today is the amazing illustration of historical and cultural ties and the modern science of healing and wellness therapies.