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Drumming is for Everybody 

Good Hope Radio interview: 7 May 2003

Saskia: Can anybody drum? What are some of the benefits?

Catherine: Everybody has rhythm, it’s in your body. If your heart’s beating, you have rhythm. Your breathing has a rhythm, and you don’t even have to think about it. We even walk and talk in rhythm. And that’s just a few examples in the body. In fact, the whole Universe is made up of rhythms, from the cycles of the seasons right down to the vibration of the smallest particles. Everything that’s alive has rhythm, and rhythm is a sign of aliveness. But most of us have lost touch with this. In this technological age that we live in, most of us have become disconnected with the natural rhythms of nature – e.g. we live with artificial lighting; also, we’re constantly bombarded with artificial rhythms from cell phones, TV’s, etc. Drumming can help to you to regain a sense of connection with nature and its rhythms. It’s also a wonderful way of expressing our aliveness, because rhythm is life.

It’s also easy, and within a few minutes you can learn a rhythm and be making music together. There aren’t any fiddly notes to pick out, like learning the piano or guitar, you can’t play a wrong note, because it’s mostly just rhythm. You just have to hit the thing!

Drumming brings people together.

The wonderful thing about drumming is that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what language you speak, because when we drum together, we’re all speaking the same language, the language of rhythm, which is our mother tongue. Drumming accesses a part of ourselves that allows us to connect at a very deep level, where our differences become irrelevant, and this can be healing on many levels.

It’s also a very easy way to socialise, even for shy people. Drumming in a group creates a wonderful sense of togetherness, and is like having a conversation where everyone is sharing equally, so you can’t feel “left out”, and there’s no pressure on anybody to “perform”. Many people come to my drum circles on their own, you don’t need a partner to come!

It's also great exercise - you can work up quite a sweat, apart from building up some great arm muscles!

Drumming’s great for stress relief because it’s instantly relaxing and de-stressing, and at the same time energising. It takes you into another space very quickly – I call it a “power holiday”. In fact, research has shown that after playing a rhythm at a constant, steady pace, your brain waves go into an “alpha” state, which is the state of relaxation, after about 10 minutes. And from there, you’re most likely to enter the “theta” state (also known as a “trance” state), which is a deeply meditative state, and very difficult to achieve unless you’re a long-term meditator. It’s the twilight zone between being awake and asleep, where you’re receptive to information beyond your normal conscious awareness.

The process by which this happens is called “rhythmic entrainment” – which is the tendency of people and objects to synchronise to a dominant rhythm. So if you swing two pendulums in opposite directions, they’ll eventually be swinging in the same direction. The same thing happens when people drum together – their brainwaves start to synchronise with the rhythm, and they have a shared brain wave state.  

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