Long Live Drummers
Of all the ways to extend and increase the quality of one’s life, few would’ve guessed that drumming would help in doing just that. Drummers are typically stereotyped as the wild card or animal of every band- with little help from the muppets. They’re the one that’s in the clouds more than on the ground, and more often than not making questionable and risky life choices. However, compared to other members of a band such as guitar players and vocalists, the drummer is the healthiest of all. Comparable to the likes of cycling and swimming, drumming is a great means of physical exercise. It is also a great mental workout when it comes to coordination, and a perfect social amplifier and medium when it comes to the community of performing music. Assisting in all aspects of health, drumming is a great choice to lead a healthy, long lasting life.
Everyone knows that to be healthy, you must exercise regularly. So it would make sense that being healthy enough to live longer can be attributed to exercise or vigorous physical activity. Through a study performed by the University of Gloucestershire led by S De La Rue and others, drumming- specifically of the rock and pop genres- has been found to have the same physical demands as activities such as “running, cycling, ice and field hockey, and competitive volleyball.” The study took several drummers and gave them a specific beat to play while measuring their heart rates. They found that the peak heart rate of the drummers was around 186bpm, which qualifies drumming as a vigorous physical activity and therefore exercise. “The time spent engaged in vigorous activity is sufficient that there are likely to be long-term health benefits from prolonged participation,” and while the life span of drummers specifically has never been researched, it’s clear that this abundant amount of exercise is only helping their health. Exercise through drumming provides enough METs, which is a measurement of the amount of energy it requires to sit (otherwise known as a metabolic equivalent), to where these individuals that were studied “have a significantly reduced risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases.” From this study it’s clear as to what the physical benefits of drumming are, but physical health isn’t all that attributes to a long lasting life.
Emotional health is just as important, and being immersed in the musical experience of drumming has been proven to assist in this aspect as well. Of course it’s clear to everyone how drumming can be a form of anger management, however it is also a means of meditation. Drumming presents a way for people struggling emotionally to increase the quality of their mood as well as alleviate anxiety. In her article, “Making Music for Mental Health,” Rosie Perkins describes how the act of drumming requires immense concentration, “which can prevent worrying,” it causes “deep breathing, which can counteract anxiety, social support which can reduce feelings of isolation, learning which keeps the mind active, and regular commitment that motivates people to remain active.” For mental health to flourish, it’s understood that five elements are required to do so; positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and a sense of accomplishment, and drumming- even the world of music as a whole- satisfies all aspects. The drumming community alone provides immense support and a sensation of belonging, and the act of creating music through rhythmic drumming is perfect training for the mind. This sense of belonging and meaning through creating music is ideal for those who feel as though they don’t have a place or purpose- emotions that can lead to and cause a variety of mental health issues as well as the possibility of taking one’s own life. Of course there’s not a direct correlation stating that drumming prevents suicide, however those who have outlets and a means of dealing with stress ultimately have more positive thoughts and healthier lives.
Mentally, the drums are heavily reliant on coordination and focus, which are a must have for drummers. This vast amount of cognitive refinement that accompanies drumming is perfect for people who suffer from anxiety, depression, ADD, you name it. Focusing and committing to the drums requires a great deal of concentration and commitment as well, which for many aides in alleviating these irritating and sometimes maddening mental disorders. Maria Kopp discusses in her study, “Where Psychology Meets Physiology,” that high amounts of stress as well as mental turmoil, such as a sense of hopelessness, affect the lifespan of those who suffer, even affecting cardiovascular health. With drumming helping to reduce this stress and help mentally, it can act as a medium in reaching an extended life. Patients suffering from depression and other disorders are often introduced to a drum circle, and following the circle one patient said that “I would go away and I had them [rhythms] in my head… the sound we produced was amazing. I focus on a sort of driving, repetitive thing that I just liked,” which provided an escape. It allows the busy and crowded minds of these individuals to fixate on one task, a task that requires so much concentration that the negatives are drowned out- like meditation.
To live a long healthy life, all aspects of health must reach a high level of adequacy- physical, mental, and emotional. Drumming, as a medium, assists in all of these aspects. Having an outlet and activity as mentally demanding as drumming assists in cognitive strength and mental health, and being a part of its community and having a sense of purpose through the instrument provides emotional support. The physical benefits are clear as well, comparable to several high intensive activities. Overall, drumming satisfies all necessary subcategories of health, and can lead to a longer, healthier life.
De La Rue, S. E. Energy Expenditure in Rock/ Pop Drumming. 2013. https://bit.ly/39qRuVl
Kopp S., Maria. Where psychology meets physiology: chronic stress and premature mortality. 2003. https://bit.ly/3szmFp1
Perkins, Rosie. Making music for mental health: how group drumming mediates recovery. 2016. https://bit.ly/3sBRysO