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Drumming for Wellness



Orange County Area Drum Circles for Wellness, Healing, Addiction, Seniors, and Movement Disorders

Drumming for wellness is a highly recognized branch of integrative medicine today, offering a range of benefits beginning with wellness and preventive medicine, to neurological & movement disorders, auto-immune, and chronic medical conditions. This research was made possible through the Remo Drum Co., Yamaha Music, a number of university brain science programs, and through our own efforts. Two new recent additions in wellness are drumming with basketball and basketball as a stand alone therapy. You'll find more information on these new methods below.

Our founder and drum circle facilitator, Stephen Dolle, has been active in drumming and related research since 2002, today having pioneered special applications in drumming for the brain. This includes tailored drumming based on Arthur Hull methods and our 12 years of experience in drum circle facilitation. Our methods benefit wellness, neurological & movement disorders, chronic illness, and mental & behavioral health. Below, you'll find more detailed information on this, and our pricing on how drumming can help you or your organization. Stephen also enjoys speaking & appearing on television on his efforts with drumming for the brain. 

Stephen Dolle December 2017 Laguna Woods TV Channel 6 Interview on Drumming for the Brain




Drumming Therapies (Drum Circles) help Wellness & Medical Disorders:

• Health & Fitness: Fitness, Weight Loss & Dieting, Senior Living

• Chronic Illness: Cancer treatment, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Asthma, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

• Behavioral & Mental Health: Drug & Alcohol Addiction, Eating Disorders, Schizophrenia, Depression, Family Therapy

• Neurological Disorders: Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's & Movement Disorders, Hydrocephalus, Alzheimer's Disease

• Sensory Processing Disorders (SPDs), Autism, PTSD, Post TBI, Brain Injury, and Cognitive Disabilities

• Neurological Disorders, Aging, Movement Disorders, and Parkinson's Disease

• Occupational Therapy: Communication Skills, Balance & Coordination, Personal Development, Confidence, and Intimacy



Health & Brain/Body Benefits from Drum Circles (Drumming) includes:

1) Improved happiness, personal confidence, and emotional connection to oneself & others thru feelings & "self expression."

2) Improved cognition, mental clarity, and sensory processing thru engaging the brain & body in coordinated movement, and improvement in proprioceptive memory - albeit thru rhythmic progressions.

3) Improved connection with others thru Brain Wave Entrainment (BWE) of group play.

4) Increased blood flow to muscles, tendons, joints, and organs from coordinated movement of the body.

5) Reduction of Stress, and improved sensory processing, esp. in sensory processing disorders (SPDs), from the vibration of the instruments.



How Drum Circles Work

    Drumming alters the mind & belief system, thereby benefiting mind & body health. Through the free expression of group play and "brain wave entrainment," the brain wave patterns (like those seen on EEG) of participants begin to mirror each other and synchronize to a common pattern, largely based on the beat and tempo of the rhythm, and occurring in as little as 10 minutes. The exact "brain wave" state is determined by a number of factors: time of day, mindset of the group, type of rhythm and tempo, and guidance of the facilitator. Typical brain wave states include alpha, delta, and theta waves - which tend to induce participants into a harmonizing state of consciousness. We delve more into the science of brain wave entrainment, or BWE, and productivity on our web page Drum Circles in the Workplace. Every drum circle has its unique mantra & energy since it involves people. Every drum circle and group produces a unique bond among the participants.

    In our drum circle facilitation work, we utilize "intuitive insight" to help understand the needs of the individuals and group. The area of the brain that's key to drumming is the Limbic System, or "emotional brain." Engaging this area of the brain is critical in all integrative medicine and therapies. From here, we introduce techniques, affirmations, and instruction in support of the healing that will take place. This part of drum circle facilitation stems from practices in shamanism, and most every facilitator has these skills, to varying degrees. Each rhythm produces a unique response in the minds & bodies of participants, commonly seen in integrative medicine. This way, each participant receives exactly what he/she needs. Drumming boosts inter-personal skills, confidence, and intimacy. We use many different methodologies in our drum circle facilitation practice which we've developed over the last 10-12 years. Outcomes are also dependent on the skill of the facilitator, and on the level of engagement of the individual and group.

Stephen also shares his methods & experiences in healing, spanning 40 years, in this blog.



Drumming Therapies for Parkinson's Disease, Movement Disorders, Hydrocephalus, and Sensory Processing Disorders

    Using the body's sensory ability, participants can be taught to initiate precise physical movements to walk, talk, and perform specific actions - all using drum rhythms as cues. This method requires less of the brain's voluntary thought and cognitive centers, and more of the rhythmic ability of the body to create syncopation of voluntary action.

    As people age, and similarly after a brain injury or onset of neurological disorder, precise voluntary control of actions like walking can become compromised. Drum training can be done privately in one's home as well as in group settings. The participant is taught how to initiate action to the cue of a rhythm using the sensory system of their body. Participants are encouraged to pick a rhythm they can easily play, and be cued with either the upbeat or downbeat. Cues are carried out by tapping the hands, fingers, feet, and other body parts in accordance with turns, steps, and bending to pick things up. This is helpful in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), post TBI, or stroke who have a lot of difficulty standing and walking. Those with autism will require more hands-on instruction.

    In 2012, he held a drum circle workshop with professional drummers as part of the OC Young Onset Parkinson's Conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Irvine. We brought in instruments so that approximately 125 participants could engage in a lively drum circle & performance with ten profesisonal percussionists who volunteered their time to come and play. There was not an idle person in the entire banquet room.

    In 2002, Stephen undertook a novel study on Sound, Movement & Sensory Processing Disorders of individuals suffering from sensory processing disorders (SPDs), which provided important insight into how our brain processes and adapts to everyday sounds, noise, television, music, machinery, and such (white noise). It helped him create new methods for drumming to help offset the ill effects of noise & media in persons with SPDs.

We authored this blog on the use of drumming for children with autism, cerebral palsy, and sensory processing disorder.





We work with basketball as a therapy for movement & balance disorders, mindfulness, and stress reduction.

Drumming for Basketball as Therapy

On our blog:






Drum Circles for Addiction: How used in the Treatment of Drug & Alcohol Addiction

    One of the more specialized applications of drum circles in recent years has been in the treatment of drug & alcohol addiction, where favorable results are widely reported. The most recognized study still today is the 2003 paper, “Complementary Therapy for Addiction: Drumming out Drugs,” by Michael Winkelman, PhD, MPH. His study reported favorable results among four (4) addiction centers, and also cited the use of Shamanic practices. We have provided drumming for addiction to both New Directions for Women in Costa Mesa, California, and the Friendship Shelter in Laguna Beach. The main benefit reported was “expression of repressed feelings.”

The benefits in drumming for addiction are four-fold: syncing of low/high brain function, team-building & community, sensory pleasure thru sound vibration, and expression of repressed feelings. These benefits are then attained thru a series of structured drum circles and exercises.

1. Rhythm & Movement Drumming: Designed to help everyday mobility, tasks, and coordination thereof. SCI persons, notwithstanding the limitations from upper thoracic and cervical cord involvement, should already have increased dexterity in the use of their hands and fingers. The goal of this exercise is to get the participants to use existing finger and hand movements for more than merely tasks and control of their chair, rather, to play patterns that can be parlayed over to better coordination and syncopation of tasks and chair control. These should be quick and varying rhythms to simulate everyday movements. Participants are instructed to play patterns not only on the instruments, but also on their legs and parts of their chair.

2. Communicative Drumming: Designed around the concept that learning assertive and provocative rhythms will further an individuals body language, presence, and telepathic energy. The basis to this exercise is supported by an earlier published study that reported men under the height of 5'8" did not command the same attention when speaking as did taller men. Further, it has been observed in SCI that because the individual sits down relatively low in their chair in public, much less than 5'8", and that they require a wider space to pass thru crowds, they face additional difficulty in having people acknowledge them sufficiently to make room for passage. Here, strong and assertive rhythms are played to boost one's command and presence. Mind-body exercises may also be of help.

3. Psyche & Wellness Rhythm Drumming: The concept in this exercise is that body movements and rhythms like running, jumping, skipping, and dancing are important to our overall wellness and psyche. In SCI, when one is confined to a chair, he/she is limited in the movements and rhythms they can carry out. By playing these movement patterns on hand percussion, you can "simulate" many of the patterns as executed in running, jumping, skipping, and dancing. The focus of this exercise is fun and lively rhythms that simulate the above movements.

4. Drumming and Visualization of Walking/Gate: This exercise is being offered in support of a joint Harvard University and University of California Irvine Reeve Center study on walking and gait in SCI. Though no fMRI scanner is available in today's drumming, the concept is the same, that playing a rhythm and feeling movement down into the legs might enhance brain activity for spinal cord repair. Participants are asked to play their visualized walking movements on a drum or shaker, and try and sense the pulse into their feet. This exercise requires more individualized concentration to engage visualization of walking. It is unclear whether other distractions and rhythms in the room might detract from the merits of this exercise. Typical rhythms would be 1-2 1-2 or 1-2-3-4 to simulate walking and marching.

In September 2015, Stephen spoke at Sovereign Health of Orange County on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Methods in Addiction Treatment. Below is the blog he wrote for this presentation.



Stephen Dolle facilitates Drum Circle at H. Louis Lake Senior Center, Garden Grove, CA






Drum Circles & Workshops for Couples, Families, and Team Building

    Various individual and family therapy methods have been used over the last 50 years to open communications among couples, family members, parents, and children. These methods have included psychotherapy, individual and group counseling, visits from social workers, and workshops on everything from EST and Lifespring to dramatic acting and image consulting. As simple as it sounds, a well facilitated drum circle can open much needed dialogue within a couple, family, group, or community.

    Drum circle workshops for couples and families is an effective non-threatening type of family therapy to mend relationships, intimacy, mental health, personal confidence, and reduce stress. We incorporate a variety of methods including free-form, or "free expression" concept of drumming. The facilitator's role is in providing a basic level of musical instruction to foster participants to play and express themselves. As in wellness drumming, the end goal is group brain wave entrainment, and it can take several sessions.

SEE also Drumming for Workplace Wellness







Brain Science (and drumming) of Basketball

We've had very favorable outcomes in combining drumming with basketball, and in basketball alone as therapy for movement disorders, mindfulness, and cognitive challenges. We authored a very in-depth blog on basketball in June 2015 and highly encourage you to read over it if you have time. Stephen shares some of his most personal healing moments and insights and methods in shooting basketball to aid his complaints associated with hydrocephalus.  Drumming techniques are shared on our web page linked above, and more extensively on our basketball blog linked below.

Brain Science of Basketball (Full WordPress Blog at DolleCommunications Blog)






Power Point: Drumming for the Brain Talk at Wright State University




Drum Circle Facilitation Pricing


Facilitation w/ Instruments 60-90 Min.        Group Size 10-50         $15.00 - $25.00 per person

Facilitation w/ Instruments 60-90 Min.        More than 50               Contact us

Instructional Workshop/Speaking                Group size 10-50          $15.00 - $40.00 per person

Minimum Fee/group size                              $250.00

Drum Performances                                      Contact us

*Non-profit, educational, and community arts programs receive a 25% discount.  Contact us for pricing and availability via email.



    To reserve a "drumming event or workshop," please fill out and send us the completed Drum Circle Facilitation Services Client & Deposit Agreement below. You may pay and/or make a DEPOSIT using our PayPal link below. Contact us via to make other payment arrangements: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com


"Drum Circle Facilitation Services Client & Deposit Agreement"


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DolleCommunications Blog