Friday, April 16, 2010

What's with all this drumming anyway?

Here is a short reference list for some articles and books that support the idea of drumming for therapeutic benefit. These documents form the core of knowledge regarding using drumming in therapy. Much of the research for using drumming protocols for stress reduction or wellness has been conducted by Dr. Barry Bittman. I have also listed several books that talk about drum circles, drum circle facilitation and other ways to use drumming for different types of groups. Christine Steven's and Bill Matney's books provide the most information about adaptations related to music therapy. I have placed links to source materials where possible.

Bittman, B., Bruhn, K. T., Stevens, C., Westengard, J., & Umbach, P. O. (2003). Recreational music-making: A cost-effective group interdisciplinary strategy for reducing burnout and improving mood states in long-term care workers. Advances, 19, 3/4.

Bittman, B., Snyder, C., Bruhn, K., Liebfreid, F., Stevens, C. K., & Westengard, B. S. (2004). Recreational music-making: An integrative group intervention for reducing burnout and improving mood states in first year associate degree nursing students: Insight and economic impact. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 1,

Bittman, M. D., Berk, L. S., Felten, D. L., Westengard, J., Simonton, O. D., Peppas, J., & Ninehouse, M. (2001). Composite effects of group drumming music therapy on modulation of neuroendocrine-immune parameters in normal subjects. Alternative Therapy Health Medicine, 7, 38-47.

Bittman, B., Berk, L., Shannon, M., Sharaf, M., Westengard, J, Guegler, K., & Ruff, D. (2005). Recreational music-making modulates the human stress response: A preliminary individualized gene expression strategy. Medical Science Monitor, 11, 31-41.

Friedman, R. L. (2000). The Healing Power of the Drum
Reno, NV: White Cliffs Media.

Kalani (2004). Together in Rhythm: A Facilitator's Guide to Drum Circle Music (Book & DVD)
Los Angeles, CA: Alfred Publishing.

Matney, B. B. (2007). Tataku: The Use of Percussion in Music Therapy
Denton, TX: Sarsen Publishing.

Stevens, C. (2003). The Art and Heart of Drum Circles Book+CD Package
Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard.


  1. A great list, but it is worth noting that the volume by Kalani has been generally discredited amongst purists (if there can even BE such a thing) in the DCF world as being a blatant rip-off of "Drum Circle Spirit" by Arthur Hull. You might also want to look at Hull's most recent book, "Drum Circle Facilitation" (which in my opinion was much better-written.)

  2. Thank you so much for reminding me that I left off Arthur Hull's book! I don't know what I was thinking! I will add it right away. I had not heard that about Kalani's book, but I do see a little bit about what you are saying. I guess there are only so many different ways you can present basically the same material. I guess I am not a purist! I like to use what works regardless of where it comes from. I do agree, however, that we should not support plagiarism or copyright infringement if that were to be proven. Thank you again!


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