28th Oct 2014

Releasing Anger with Drums

Everyone gets angry, whether because of a harsh word or a “Murphy’s Law” moment, we are all bound to experience moments in life that are quite less than sunny. Moreover, we have all heard about the healthy and unhealthy ways to manage anger, from exercise or writing a letter to meditation and forgiveness. Anger, unfortunately, is a part of our lives, but, there is one activity that almost begs to help process those negative feelings: drumming.


Pounding on a drum has a tremendous benefit for anyone experiencing anger or other bad feelings. Much like the ability for drums and rhythm to navigate through the unsteady waters of stress or anxiety, drumming is a natural outlet for anger. Through rhythm, the brain is better able to return to a more natural, sensible pattern and eliminate the need to react in an angry manner. The action of drumming is a physical release of those feelings, and, honestly, there are few drums that are going to ask a person to not beat out a representation of the emotion within.

The type of drum needed for a good session of releasing anger may depend on the person drumming, yet, hand drums can easily give an extra benefit to the exercise. The literal hands-on drumming on a djembe or conga drum, for example, allows for a more tactile sensation during drumming that can stimulate the brain in different ways than those who drum with sticks or mallets. In fact, as Urban Dictionary defines, the word “djembe” can also mean "to accomplish, defeat, or subdue beyond all contention or protest." In a sense, drumming on a djembe or hand drum could be a more direct method of using drums in order to process anger than drumming on a drum set, connecting a person on a more intimate level that reverberates throughout the body.

That isn’t to say that drum set drummers, or those who prefer the timbales or marching drums, for example, are losing something in the process of drumming. These drummers also benefit from the action, and can even drum along to favorite songs that bring back better memories or provide a full connection to the lyrics or other instruments within the song to express feelings of anger.

Whether the drummer prefers the loud crash of a cymbal or the melodious beat of a djembe, drumming can be a beneficial exercise in managing anger. When those negative feelings begin to creep up, take a moment and tap out a rhythm on whatever is available, and see how the rhythm can turn a bad moment into something much more memorable.