Drumming: The Universal Language

Our Mother’s heartbeat is the first sound that we hear while we are still in the womb. Ireland has its Bodhran, bones and spoons. Cuba its Congas and Bongos. The Djembie is native to Africa as the Dumbek is to the Middle East. In Bali you can pound on your Cheng Cheng.

Since the dawn of time people all over the world have wrapped a piece of skin around a hollowed out log and have been keeping the beat. If you’re in the jungle, grab a couple of sticks and tap them together. In the middle of the city, a trash can lid will do. In Tibet the Damaru drum is made out of two halves of a human skull. The two pieces are joined together, covered with skin and a beater on a length of rope is used to produce the sound.

In Africa the Talking Drum was used to communicate over great distances long before anyone had heard about the telegraph or telephone.

Every culture has its own distinctive beat from the slow heart rythm of the American Indian to the rapid fire beat of the Cuban Conga. Drums are used to celebrate, in war,and religious rituals. Drumming has been shown to reduce stress and bolster the immune system.

Studies have shown that the benefits of drumming don’t come from the sound or the vibrations that are created, but rather from the sense of community that is created.

Keeping the beat works just as well in school children as it does in the nursing home. Even severely debilitated patients who are able to hold a stick can participate.

Part of the fun, especially for children, is to build your own drum. Inexpensive kits are available on the internet or at most music and leather craft stores.

Get creative. A cardboard tube from an empty box of wrap can make a great percussion instrument, just tap it on various parts of your body and see what happens!

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