Can drumming improve brain function?

Research case study

The effects of a rock drumming intervention on children with additional educational needs.

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The situation

Combining physical activity, music and four limb coordination into an engaging and enjoyable activity, rock drumming has become renowned as a powerful model for physical activity research.

The Clem Burke Drumming Project (CBDP) was founded in 2008 by Dr Clem Burke (drummer, Blondie), Professor Steve Draper (Academic Dean of Research and Knowledge Exchange, Hartpury University) and Professor Marcus Smith (University of Chichester).

What initially set out to examine the physiological demands of playing ‘live’ during one-off and multiple gigs has grown into an exploration of the overarching physical, mental and health benefits of drumming. The research has been pivotal in revealing the impact of physical activity through drumming on brain plasticity in autistic disorders.

Project partners

An accessible resource

Steve has made many appearances on national and international media and spoken about his research and events includes Cheltenham Science Festival and the Dublin Science Gallery. CBDP subsequently released a short animated short video to make the scientific investigation more accessible to a wider audience.

“It is exciting to see our findings communicated in such an engaging and accessible way,” Steve explains. “There is enormous potential to improve physical and mental wellbeing through learning to drum.”

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