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Follow the beat: drums can move your body and mind

American Fitness, Nov-Dec, 2002 by Michelle Cook

The ancient sound of African djembe drums can be heard outside office towers and health centers across the world. In an effort to restore health to people with motor disorders (e.g., Parkinson`s) or mental illness (e.g., bipolar disorder or schizophrenia), health practitioners are invoking the healing wisdom of our ancestors. While many of its current proponents are not shamans, they take the form of psychotherapists, music therapists, doctors, drum facilitators and fitness instructors who recognize the body`s inherent healing ability when given a means of emotional and creative expression and a tool to discover its own rhythms.

Whether in Africa, South America, Asia, the Middle East or North America, indigenous people incorporated drumming into celebrations, rituals and healing. Now, this ancient wisdom is being cultivated for the treatment of modern illnesses and stresses. One of the best antidotes to the pressures of the modern world comes in the form of a hand drum.

Drumming and Health

Drumming is being effectively used in the treatment of many conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular and chronic lung disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, manic depression and autism. It is also showing promise with diseases and disorders like Alzheimer`s, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, paralysis, Parkinson`s and multiple personality disorder.

How does drumming affect these disorders? Dr. Connie Tomaino, director of the Department of Music Therapy, Institute for Music and Neurological Function in Bronx, New York, conducted a study on the effects of various types of music on brainwaves. She discovered that when people with irregular or weak brain rhythms, such as individuals with Alzheimer`s disease, listened to music with strong rhythms, their brainwaves became more organized, pronounced and higher in frequency. While the research is still in its infancy, it suggests music may help maintain brain health.

Robert Lawrence Friedman, a leading drum therapist and author of The Healing Power of the Drum, has done extensive work with drumming as a healing tool. He has worked with couples having relationship difficulties and used drumming as a means for them to become more synchronized with their personal rhythms. The same is true for classes where different people try to synchronize movements in the name of exercise. Drumming is a nonverbal way for people to communicate in a positive and healing way.

Drumminq and Exercise

Drumming can be a powerful tool when combined with exercise. Many people exercise to provide an outlet for stress, improve self-confidence and body image. Drumming can enhance the physical and emotional effects of exercise, not to mention provide an excellent workout for arm and hand muscles. Drum music can be incorporated into stretching exercises, warm-ups, aerobic workouts, strength training, yoga and Pilates.

Drumming can be easily integrated in fitness classes to give a total body, mind and spiritual approach to wellness. Using a set of hand drums requires neither experience nor musical skill. Most people find they get "charged up" by drumming. This effect could be useful to increase energy and motivation at the beginning of a workout. Drumming can also be a great way to finish a strenuous workout by taking people`s minds off their fatigue or sore muscles by focusing their attention on the rhythms.

If drums are not available, use music that has powerful drum rhythms. There is no shortage of earthy sounds in Native American, Australian aborigine, African or Latin American music to inspire novice drummers while working out. For music suggestions that go beyond the common synthetic drum machine sounds in popular music, see "Music to Drum By."

Our bodies are rhythmic--our blood flows, heart beats and lungs breathe in patterns. It is no surprise our bodies innately respond to the rhythms of drumming. Anyone who feels "out of sync" or can`t keep up with the pressures of his or her busy lifestyle should consider drumming and move to a whole new beat.

Music to Drum By

Whether you`re looking to add drum music to your fitness classes or incorporate music for people to drum with, these CDs offer a wide range of sounds. The music can easily be incorporated into stretching exercises, warm-ups, aerobic workouts, strength training, yoga and Pilates.

Sacred Earth Drums by David and Steve Gordon. Produced by Sequoia Records, Inc., and Earth Vision Music, Inc., (BMI). Combines drumming with Native American flute, nature sounds and Incan panpipes.

Spirit Dreams by Indigenous Australia. Produced by Holborne Australasia Pry Limited. Drumming music with the sound of the Australian aborigine didgeridoo. Available at www.indig.com.

Thunder Dance by Scott Fitzgerald. Produced by World Disc Music, NorthSound Music Group, Inc. Drumming with nature sounds superimposed.

Sacred Spirit. Produced by Virgin Records Ltd. Earthy sounds of Native American drumming and chanting.

Any Gypsy Kings CD (e.g., Compas or Este Mundo). Their upbeat music combines traditional Flamenco instruments and vocals with catchy drum beats.

Concert drums up support for democracy in Belarus

Deseret News (Salt Lake City) , Mar 13, 2006

Oscar-winning Polish film director Andrzej Wajda rallied the crowd Sunday at a Warsaw, Poland, rock concert, part of an event organized by Polish and Ukrainian artists in support of Belarus` opposition a week ahead of a presidential election there.

"You are doing the right thing," Wajda, 80, told some 5,000 youths at the concert where Polish and Ukrainian bands sang songs of Ukraine`s Orange Revolution and from Poland`s Solidarity freedom movement of the 1980s.

In the March 19 election, Belarus` authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko is seeking a third consecutive term but is challenged by three other candidates, including Alexander Milinkevich`s main pro-democratic opposition.

Poland, which shed communism in 1989 and is now a European Union member, supports Belarus` pro-democracy forces.

Copyright C 2006 Deseret News Publishing Co.

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

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