Creating, diffusing emotions through music

The drum.

One of the most basic musical instruments and probably the oldest. It can be played by anyone; all that is needed is the bottom of a plastic bucket.

Some say the reverberations of drums can heal. In the hands of an accomplished percussionist, they can at least sound great.

In late November personnel with Fort Irwin Army Substance Abuse Program attended a presentation by musician Brent Lewis of Joshua Tree, Calif. Lewis played a djembe drum (West Africa) and spoke about how the sounds related to animal movements or behaviors. He slapped the drum skin with ease and asked others to use a bucket and join him in a session.

James Paynes, operations manager with Solutions Recovery in Las Vegas, grabbed a pail and fell in rhythm with the maestro.

Not too difficult. That was the point.

Perry Crawford, a substance abuse counselor with ASAP here, invited Lewis to perform. Lewis has played drums professionally and internationally for many years and demonstrated the simplicity of creating beats and a tempo.

Crawford stated the use of rhythms is natural, primitive, and a form of communication. Rhythms can be used as part of therapy.

“When it comes to dealing with emotions you can create emotions with music, so you can also diffuse emotions with music,” Crawford said.

Crawford said that thoughts and feelings culminate in behavior. Changing a way of thinking or altering feelings is the goal. Using substances to do so only makes problems worse. Creating rhythms with drums can be an alternative.

“The behavior choice is the drumming,” Crawford said. “Take the thinking, take the feelings, put it in the rhythms – let it out, communicate it. Bing, bang, smack if you want or gentle, almost whispering. It’s a therapy. That’s what therapy is all about, it’s communicating it out and not letting it culminate in behavior that brings consequences and pain.”

Lewis, who is known for playing a melodic 20-drum set, said it’s easy to get involved with music. It’s a matter of obtaining an instrument, playing, and “taking it one note at a time.” He agreed that music is beneficial.

“Music is the basic communications of the universe,” Lewis said. “It’s mathematically perfect. When people hear the correct music, it causes in the mind to think correctly, because you’re hearing what is right. It makes you feel good, because it’s right.”


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