Playing to the Beat of Your Own Drum

 

Words by Ambar Ramirez

 

In a typical classroom or educational environment you expect to see notebooks, pencils, pens, highlighters, whiteboards, sticky notes and index cards. What you may not expect, unless you are taking a music class, are drums (especially when talking about a Senior Health & Wellness course). But the 9-week Brainpulse Senior Health and Wellness course with Into The Rhythm is all about the unexpected. It’s a course completely centered around using drums to facilitate in broadening the mind. 

 

“Brainpulse is a health and wellness program that was created by neuroscientists and drumming facilitators based out of the UK and I believe Canada. It’s an interdisciplinary program that talks about brain health. So we learn about how the brain fires and wires under stress and tips to help reduce that through shared rhythmic activity and utilizing drums as a medium,” Amber Hall, founder of Into the Rhythm, shared. “Did you know that when you play an instrument it turns on your whole brain at once? It lights up your whole brain like fireworks.”

 

Hall has been a part of the drumming community in Northeast Florida for over 30 years and often reminisces on when she was a student how her educators used creative methods (like incorporating instruments) to teach traditional courses. Having experienced such a riveting experience with drumming and percussion, Hall only wishes to bring that same experience to the community. 

 

“In today’s world with telephones, and specifically the internet, all these shorts and TikToks have hijacked people’s consciousness, attention span and awareness to the point that they can only handle the little 15- or 30-second blips… people don’t even read anymore like they used to,” Hall explained. “And that’s kind of crazy for what it’s doing to the brain because all the things that we do are meant to make us well-rounded, whole brain, humans capable of not only defending ourselves when need be, but fight like we’re all supposed to be able to, also supposed to be able to realize when we’re being fed a load of horsesh** and move it up to our higher logic and find answers and logical reasoning for solving problems and unifying each other. And we’re losing that ability at lightning speed as a people. So drumming is something that brings that back.”

 

Not only can drumming be highly beneficial for the mind, but it is also fun. And when we’re talking about troubled teens, incarcerated individuals or seniors who have a loose grip on basic motor functions, the results of a guided course through drumming is powerful. If you don’t believe Hall on how beneficial drumming can be for healing practices, neuroscientists have done studies that highlight the benefits of drumming such as aiding in cognitive reserve reaction time, reducing stress, and improving mobility and memory retention. 

 

“I also combine songs with my programs. For instance, in the Memory Care Trauma Ward. You know, with people that are in full dementia and Alzheimer’s, the way that I get them to experience rhythm is I put the music in front of them, and I sing songs from their era that they know, and it snaps into the part of the brain where memory is and these people come back to themselves and some of them sing songs with me and talk to me during it. And I’ve actually had the nurses come and say, ‘ou know, some of these people are nonverbal. They don’t speak for weeks at a time. But when you come, not only do they speak, they come back to themselves in the music and they sing the song,’” Hall shared. “You know, that’s what music can do for you.”

 

The 9-week interdisciplinary senior brain health course held at the Main Branch library in St. Augustine (for the first series) will walk through different topics and themes concerning senior health (of course) and how to reduce stress through rhythmic activity. While this specific course is geared towards seniors, Hall’s Into the Rhythm offers a variety of different programs for all ages. No instrument or percussion experience is needed, just a good attitude and the willingness to learn something new. 

 

“We’ve got to find a way to bring people back on the same page in a non-confrontational way where they can heal and grow and become more than what we all are because we’re all here to serve each other and be here together,” Hall expressed.

 

To sign up for the 9-week Brainpulse Senior Health and Wellness course with Into The Rhythm, follow this link: sjcpls.org/event/drumming-with-amber-2/. Or if you don’t fall into the senior age group but would like to expand the mind through drumming, check out intotherhythm.com.

About Ambar Ramirez

Flipping through magazines for as long as she can remember, Ambar Ramirez has always known she wanted to be a journalist. Fast forward, Ambar is now a multimedia journalist and creative for Folio Weekly. As a recent graduate from the University of North Florida, she has written stories for the university’s newspaper as well as for personal blogs. Though mainly a writer, Ambar also designs and dabbles in photography. If not working on the latest story or design project, she is usually cozied up in bed with a good book or at a thrift store buying more clothes she doesn’t need.