Saturday, March 19, 2011

Djembe Drums for Music Therapy

Ruth Williams

Hand-crafted African djembe drums are beautiful instruments with an attractive sound. Not only that, these drums are useful for therapy and healing. Rhythm is an essential part of the human experience, beginning with the sound of the mum's heartbeat while still in the womb. Drum therapy builds on that sensation to further encourage healing.

Music therapy with djembe drums can be used in many different institutional settings. For instance, school children of all ages enjoy a session of playing rhythm instruments. But the benefit goes beyond simple enjoyment. Making music has been found to be beneficial to a child's intellectual development as well as reducing stress levels, both facts which make drumming useful as therapy for children with disabilities like ADHD, mental retardation, or physical handicaps.

The djembe drum dates back about 700 years, where it was first crafted in the African country of Mali. The craftsman carves the drum from a single length of tree trunk and tops it with an animal skin head. The drum is designed to fit between the legs of the player and be drummed on with the hands. Musicians can learn traditional rhythms or play according to the way they feel.

Drum circles are used for many types of therapy. When used in a group, the sense of community aids the music in creating wellness. Drum circles have been found helpful for stroke victims, cancer sufferers, people trying to break addictions, and other people young and old who are facing challenges. Drums are used with Alzheimer's patients and it's believed that drumming can even help the immune system.

In a drum circle, the lead djembe drummer will usually lay down the rhythm for the circle, with other instruments following his lead. Other instruments used include rattles, shakers, bongo drums, rhythm sticks, and tambourines. Schools often purchase the instruments in classroom kits so that there will be something for everyone to play.

When choosing a djembe drum, it is important to think of the size of the individual who will be playing it. Heights of the drums range from 12 to 28 inches with the diameter of the head increasing proportionately. The drum should rest on the floor or chair when the player is seated. The head of the drum should be located 3 or 4 inches above the lap. Thus, the smallest children should be equipped with the shortest size of djembe drums.

For a great selection of fun childrens musical instruments, visit the Djembe Drum Shop where you can view and buy products online.

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