“Drum therapy is an ancient approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression. Current research is now verifying the therapeutic effects of ancient rhythm techniques. Recent research reviews indicate that drumming produces feelings of well-being and aids in a release of emotional trauma. Other studies have demonstrated the calming, focusing, and healing effects of drumming on Alzheimer’s patients, autistic children, emotionally disturbed teens, recovering addicts, trauma patients, and prison and homeless populations. ‘Drumming emphasizes self-expression, teaches how to rebuild emotional health, and addresses issues of violence and conflict through expression and integration of emotions,’ says Music educator Ed Mikenas.”
Drum workshops, where we specifically use variations of the Brazilian drumming known as Samba, are therefore especially helpful with the particular groups that Musicians without Borders works with. Derek Beckvold, Musicians without Borders’ Samba volunteer trainer, leads five groups of different members of the Palestinian community in Samba workshops. These five groups include three deaf women from different towns in the West Bank who come together to play at Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, refugee teens from Beit Zahour who live in a disadvantaged environment which results in them spending their free time on the streets, and three groups of emotionally neglected boys aged 9-17 from Bil’in, a small town outside of Ramallah.
During these Samba lessons, Derek does different exercises with the groups, all which help them learn about rhythm, listening to each other, communication, and structure. Derek leads the boys in call and response games, the “forbidden rhythm” game, and allows them to play solos, something they really enjoy as they receive the opportunity to create their own rhythms and express themselves. The drumming is also great for the boys as it channels their lack of focus and listening skills in a group setting into something worthwhile and positive, like making music. Recently, Derek has been teaching the deaf women at Aida camp drumming techniques, such as paradiddles, double paradiddles, and double strokes. The women really enjoy learning these challenging techniques! All three of the groups have shown serious motivation, enthusiasm, dedication and improvement and we are having a wonderful time working with them!
 Drake, Michael. “Drum Therapy.” About.com Holistic Healing. Web. 01 Oct. 2013.
Musicians without Borders would like to give a special thank you to D’Addario who kindly donated sticks, ear plugs, and new drum skins to replace the broken ones. We would also like to thank Musicians Against Nuclear Arms (MANA) for their donation which contributed to paying for the buses to transport the boys and instruments. These donations are very much appreciated!
By: Savannah, Musicians without Borders Volunteer