In this video, I show you how a create a composite rhythm from a ceremonial rhythm composed of 4 drum parts. I also describe why it is important to vary a rhythm, no matter how complex it is, to influence the brain and behavior within the alpha state of consciousness.
In this video I show how I approach the three types of sensory processing issues – hyper-sensitivity, hypo-sensitivity, and sensory discrimination.
I play examples of various drumming rhythms to influence these sensory responses and describes how hyper and hypo sensitivity fits into an REI Custom Program.
Learn more about the REI Custom Program
Explore my music for free at brainshiftradio.com
Activating the brain for memory and cognitive enhancement can be done two ways:
1. Play pleasingly variable patterns with an unpredictable, yet musical quality at 8 beats per second. This has an immediate activating effect and, coupled with progressively more complex patterns over a series of recordings, can provide long-term cognitive enhancements. This is the approach we use for the REI Custom Programs.
2. Play various tempos all within the alpha range of 8-12 beats per second (bps). Musically, 8-12 bps is 120-180 beats per minute when playing 16th notes and one beat of the metronome is a 1/4 note. This means that you are playing 4 drumming beats for each click of the metronome. This approach is the key to the Brain Boost category on brainshiftradio.com.
I end this video with a cognitive enhancement drumming session. Let it play quietly in the background and see how mentally clear you feel afterward.
Check out a free 14-day trial on https://www.brainshiftradio.com to explore more music to boost your brain.
Learn to play the drums for healing at http://www.drumhealing.com
Explore the REI Custom Program at: https://www.stronginstitute.com/rei-custom-program/
I’ve been playing for people with neurological disorders for 25 years and everyday I still wake up passionate about the work I do. It wasn’t always this way. As I was building my business, I received a lot of advice to delegate and be a manager. I tried this and quickly found myself losing interest. So, I resumed doing the one task that I loved: customer support.
If you’ve ever called or emailed us, chances are you talked to (or heard from) me. I answer the phone because I love talking to clients, prospective clients, and providers. This is what gets me up in the morning; yet this is what the business “experts” told me I shouldn’t be doing. The secret is that this task gives me joy, and my clients can sense my passion for the work and their well-being.
My advice: Focus on the aspects of your work you love, even if they are the “lowly” tasks that most people hire out.
This video shows how I use fast, complex drumming rhythms to reduce sound sensitivities.
Sound sensitivity falls into two categories:
1. General overwhelm. Too much auditory input and competing sounds, such as those at a restaurant or school cafeteria, often result in shutting down or lashing out due to the inability to filter for important sounds.
2. Aversion to specific sounds. Certain sounds, such as that of a vacuum cleaner or blender, often elicit negative responses due to their specific frequency, intensity or volume.
Both require a progressive set of rhythms, tones, and levels of intensity and volume to help the nervous system learn to process and tolerate them.
You can read more about the studies I talk about in this video here:
Child with super-human hearing and aversion to vacuum cleaner sound: https://www.stronginstitute.com/article-resources/dd-book-excerpts/sound-sensitive.html
How do I stop tantrums, anxiety attacks and escalating aggression with a 16 bar phrase?
Novelty, that’s how. Rhythm can do more than just calm the average person.
My book about the development and practice of REI, Different Drummer: One Man’s Music and Its Impact on ADD, Anxiety, and Autism, was recently reviewed by Autism Daily Newscast.
Here is an excerpt:
For anyone with an interest in the therapeutic aspect of music this is a gem of a book. For parents wanting to explore different approaches to help their children it will make interesting reading. As a lay person who just enjoys playing the odd CD I found myself a little overloaded with music and technology theory and was more interested in reading about how following a lifelong passion such as drumming can lead to the most unexpected places and discoveries.
Every year I offer some free audio downloads of my music. These downloads are from Brain Shift Radio based on mixes created by the BSR member community. Click the image to download.
I hope you enjoy them.
Warm Calmed Focus. This track uses a warm ambient pad mixed with an Udu drum accelerating from 8 to 10 beats-per-second to calm your brain then dial in focus.
Instructions for downloading to mobile devices:
Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod)
Download Documents by Readdle from the Apple App store (it’s free).
Once you download the app, please follow these steps:
- Open the Documents app
- Choose Settings (the little gear icon in the upper left of the app).
- Choose Browser from the options.
- Under User Agent choose Google Chrome.
- Close the settings window (tap Close in the upper left of the window).
- Choose Browser from the main menu on the left
- Click the download file images above (one at a time). A Save File window will appear.
- Tap Done when the Save File window opens. You can monitor the download by tapping on the Documents button to the right of the web address window (this is the down-pointing arrow).
- When file is downloaded it will appear in the Documents folder located in Documents option from the main menu. This menu is accessed by tapping the icon with the three horizontal lines in the upper left of the app window.
- If you want to put your track on iCloud simply drag the file into the iCloud Menu option. It is now on your iCloud account. Please note: if you want the file to go to iCloud by default choose this option from the Setting menu when you are changing the User Agent in the Browser options menu described in Step 3 above).choose View File. Again, a new browser tab will open and the track will play.
Android devices (phones and tablets)
Go to Google play and download ES File Explorer: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.estrongs.android.pop
To download the audio files:
- Click the download file images above (one at a time).
- Tap Download. The track may begin playing. If it is Tap Pause to Stop playback.
- Let it download.
- Once it is downloaded, open the ES File Exporter app.
- Choose Search from the menu and type in Download.
- Click the Download folder to expand and you’ll see the track.
- Click the track and then select the ES media player to play the track. I suggest checking the box that says “Set as default” so you won’t get this screen again.
- Open the ES File Exporter app and click the track name each time you want to listen.
This is an excerpt from a chapter in my book, Different Drummer, exploring the use of drumming to help with self-stimulatory behaviors.
You can find other excerpts in the list to the right.
Kylie watched as I set up my gear, her face blank while she repetitively zipped and unzipped her sweater.
“She stims like this a lot,” explained her mother. “I can’t get her to focus when she does this. She just stares off into space and plays with her zipper or button. She can do this for hours and when I try to stop her she has a meltdown. She’ll pull away and scream.”
I nodded as I began to play. Simple, quiet rhythms at first. Just testing the waters.
The slightest smile appeared on Kylie’s face. It was gone as quickly as it came.
I settled into a groove with syncopated muted tones, creating a pulsing patter to try to engage Kylie. For about one minute she looked down toward the floor while zipping and unzipping her sweater.
I stopped for a couple of seconds, looking for a response. Kylie looked up at me. I started playing again, figuring that she was listening. She opened her eyes wide a few times as though she was trying to wake herself up.
I kept my syncopated patter going, interjecting a couple of rhythms I had found useful for stopping self-stimming. At about two-and-a-half minutes into this session, Kylie looked at her mom, who was sitting next to her on the couch. Over the next minute or so, Kylie looked at her mom and then away several times.
I switched to a 9-beat pattern and Kylie moved over to her mom and leaned into her and closed her eyes. The stimming stopped.
I played for another minute and noticed that Kylie was asleep. I stopped and left the room.
Kylie had autism. She engaged in a fairly typical behavior of self-regulation through repetitive motor movements. For Kylie, zipping and unzipping her sweater was soothing. Hers was a relatively subtle, innocuous behavior, one that didn’t seem to coincide with any outward stimulus or event.
This behavior was upsetting to her mother because when Kylie was stimming she was unreachable, having retreated into her own world. This is common among people with autism, though the stimming isn’t always present, because being unresponsive is a defining characteristic of the condition.
From my perspective, repetitive and self-stimulatory behaviors like this take two forms. They are either internally driven, possibly as a desire to retreat from the world, or they are in response to a disagreeable external stimulus. The stimming is a way to tune-out or modulate the stimulus.
This is an excerpt from a chapter in my book, Different Drummer, exploring the use of drumming to help with sensory processing.
You can find other excerpts in the list to the right.
“Brandon can hear the Fed Ex truck coming from miles away,” his mother, Jenny, told me. “He has super hearing. On the flip side, he is easily overstimulated by the noise. It’s good that we live in the country, otherwise he’d probably be screaming all the time. Is this something you can help with?”
“A lot of my clients have sound sensitivities. So, I think I can help,” I said. Brandon’s sound sensitivities remind me of Steven, a child from my study at a public elementary school. Theresa, one of the teachers helping with the study, had warned me that if I played my drum in the small room where I had successfully played for every other kid, Steven would run out of the room screaming. He didn’t. In fact, he was less bothered by sounds after listening to a recording of me playing for two months. So I was confident that I could help Brandon. This is why I was willing to drive forty miles to his home in a tiny town on the St. Croix River in Wisconsin.
I arrived and Brandon was standing on the porch, dancing excitedly on his toes.
“Hi Brandon. Do you like drums?” I asked.
I handed him a case and had him follow me into the house.
We went into the living room and I started to set up my equipment when a plane flew overhead. Brandon’s hands flew up to his ears and he started rocking and groaning. Jenny grabbed him and held him, soothingly. I sat by my drum and watched as Brandon reacted to the sound of the airplane. It was flying low and it took a while for it to get far enough away for Brandon to calm down.
“Does the airplane scare you, Brandon?” I asked.
He looked at me and didn’t say a word, though I thought I detected a slight nod.
“The planes don’t come very often,” Jenny told me. “There is a small light aircraft terminal a few miles from here and sometimes a plane will land or take off over us. When it happens Brandon gets anxious.”
“Do any other sounds bother him?” I asked.
“Anything sudden or unexpected will do it. He also hates the vacuum, lawn mower, and hair dryer.”
“How about loud noises? Are they a problem in general or is it only unexpected or droning noises?”
Not all loud noises bother him. He can handle loud music. He actually prefers his music loud. I think it’s mostly sounds that carry on.”
I turned to Brandon. “Do you mind if I play the drum?” I asked.
“Brandon, why don’t you sit down next to Mr. Jeff,” said Jenny.
Brandon came over to me and sat as I started to play. As you might expect, I started slowly and quietly, using mostly muted tones with some soft open tones and bass punches thrown in as I built the volume. I wanted to see how loud I could play before he began getting uncomfortable.
For about five minutes I increased the volume and added slap tones, which are the loudest most piercing sounds this drum can make. By the end of these five minutes, I was playing as loudly and intensely as I ever had. Brandon sat next to me watching my hands hit the drum. He was not bothered in the slightest.
This has been my experience with the live drumming for people who are extremely sound sensitive. In every case, they could tolerate what I was playing and none showed any signs that they were uncomfortable. No covering of their ears, no screaming or crying, no recoiling or shying away.
This is often not the case with a recording of the drumming. If the volume is too loud for someone with a sound sensitivity, he will cover his ears, complain or leave the room. But with the live drumming, this has never happened.
So, knowing that my drumming wouldn’t bother him, I settled down a bit and focused on playing rhythms that I have used for other kids who had similar sound sensitivities. I played a series of rhythms with more subtle differences between the lower and higher notes, creating more of a droning patter. Brandon shifted in his seat. I increase the repetitive nature of the rhythm and Brandon shift again, this time leaning away from me.
More repetition and Brandon stood up and left the room. I increased the volume and, as Brandon brought his hands to his ears, I dropped the volume and played a five beat rhythm heavy on bass tones. These rhythms and textures were in large contrast to what I had been playing. Brandon dropped his hands from his ears.
Next, I switched to a 73-beat rhythm that I played once before when a young girl was covering her ears as a plane flew overhead. This rhythm settled her down. And now, I wanted to see if it would relax Brandon as well. Testing a rhythm this way is what allowed me to develop the databases of rhythms related to symptoms.
After a minute or so with this rhythm, Brandon was next to me again. I eased off on the volume a bit and added a few more muted tones to the pattern. Brandon sat down. I added some more bass tones and played for several minutes before Brandon put his hands on the side of the drum.
It is common for kids to place their hands on the drum when I play a combination of bass and muted tones. The bass is deep and resonant. And it’s inviting. The physical sensations of the drum are palpable. You feel it in your chest.
Brandon held onto the drum as I played for several more minutes. Then I stopped. He continued holding the drum. I tapped out a simple bass pulse and asked if he wanted to join me. His hand slowly moved from the side of the drum to its head. He held his hand on the head as I kept pounding the bass pulse.
Soon he tapped in time with me. I kept the bass pulse going with the right hand and with my left added simple syncopations encouraging him to keep playing with me. We played together for a while before I stopped again. His hand remained on the drum for a minute or so. Then he lifted his hand, got up, and walked out of the room.
Satisfied with the session, I packed up and left. I made a tape for him and sent it to his mother the next day. I also asked her to specifically note how often and how severely he reacted to sounds in his environment.
I checked in with her after four weeks.
“Brandon is much calmer than he used to be. He is less bothered by the lawn mower and vacuum cleaner. The other day I forgot he was in his room when I turned on the vacuum and went down the hall with it. When I had done this in the past he would come screaming out of his room with his hands over his ears and run outside. This time he stayed in his room and kept playing.
“I was surprised because after I finished vacuuming I went into his room to get his dirty laundry and there he was, playing on the floor. I asked if he heard the vacuum and he said he did. I asked, ‘didn’t it bother you?’ and he said, ‘yeah’. I asked why he didn’t leave the room and he said he was busy playing. I was shocked because any other time and he would have been crying and screaming. This is just one example of how he seems much less bothered by the noises that used to drive him crazy.”