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R.D.A. - Recommended Drumming Allowance



by Christine Stevens, MSW, MT-BC, MA

Check back every month for a new personal rhythmic prescription.

Rhythm - the elements in music pertaining to forward motion.
Rhythmatize – to be completely filled with rhythm.

Even if you’ve never been to a nutritionist or taken note of your diet, you are probably familiar with the Recommended Daily Allowance, known as the R.D.A. But the concept of health today includes much more than diet and nutrition. In addition to our focus on the body, today we understand that health also involves the mind and spirit. Mind-body-spirit health requires new strategies that develop areas that have been previously neglected. To achieve total wellness, we must create new types of diets that nurture all the aspects of ourselves.

Drumming is an aesthetic activity practiced throughout the ages that provides the kinesthetic stress release through physical activity while improving one’s mood and providing an avenue for creative expression. In this era of creative longing, more and more people have a desire to participate in music.

The R.D.A is a guide to using rhythm to enhance your life. Based upon research demonstrating substantially more benefits from active music making over passive music listening, these RDAs will encourage you to get involved in the experience of making music and rhythm. So get started and enjoy the BEAT!

January February March April
May June July August
September October November December

RDA #109 - July

The Rhythm of the Soul

Soul is a term used to describe a whole genre of music.  Like R & B, rhythm and soul are two terms that support and coordinate with one another. 

To discover the rhythm of your soul, begin in silence.  Tune into the musicality of your soul.  Describe it in your mind’s eye. 

RDA #108 - June

Visualization Journey

Drumming while visualizing and making sounds on your drum that support your image. 

RDA #107 - May

Somebody’s Knocking

Whenever we knock on the door, we usually have our own rhythmic phrase.  This is your unique rhythmical introduction.  Today, begin your day with a tap on your drum.  Introduce yourself with five minutes of playing, as if it were your unique way of saying good morning, knocking on the door of your life. 


Somebody’s Dialing

Whenever we dial our phone, we can create our own rhythmic style.  In just seven digits, we can compose a rhythm pattern that we can repeat and repeat.   top

RDA #106 - April

The One-Minute Marathon

Consider this is an exercise in creativity development.  You can only play the same way for one minute.  Challenge yourself to come up with at least ten ways to make sound on your drum, changing every minute.  Use a clock. 

After 10 minutes, stop and consider which manner of playing felt best for you.  Start again and play for 10 minutes in the sonic style that best represents your personal spirit. 


RDA #105 - March

Heartbeat Harmonics

Lub-dub, Lub-dub, Lub-dub. 

What happens when we take the rhythm of the heartbeat and apply it to the drum?  The external sound links to our internal state.  We play a pattern that is so familiar to us, it pre-dates our consciousness and our birth. 

Today, take time to listen to your human pulse.  Then play the heart-beat rhythm on your drum.  Use this heart-beat rhythm as a meditation.  top

RDA  #104 - February

Planting Seeds of Rhythm

Spring is the perfect time to increase the amount of music in your life.  Like seeds, rhythm and music need a few basic essential organic elements to nurture and grow:

1. Sunlight – we use this as a metaphor to take yourself LIGHTLY while you drum and play.

2. Water -  we use this as a metaphor to go with the FLOW.  Drum and allow the rhythm to move, flow, change, and settle.  Don't judge – be open to the FLOW.

3. Roots – we use this as a metaphor to connect with the deep ROOTS OF RHYTHM in the ancestors and cultures who've drummed before.  Plant yourself into the roots of rhythm that have sprung up around the world in many cultures and know that you are continuing this ancient tradition.  Here's your rhythm:

Brush – Brush – tap tap tap tap tap tap tap (ROLL)
Allow your eyes to close.   As you brush your drum, imagine brushing the earth's surface before planting your seeds.  Tap your drum, spreading seeds of rhythm into your heart song.  Watch them GROW and became a beautiful rhythm – infused with light-heartedness, flow, and connected to the deep roots of rhythm.  Allow the rhythm to blossom.  Allow your heart song to grow.  Become the rhythm stalk and climb to the highest places of musical spirit today! top

RDA  #103 - January

Rhythmic Release

Goal:  Use your drum as a tool for relaxation and stress reduction followed by five minutes of creative improvisation. 

Begin by sitting in front of your drum.  Next, imagine any worries, concerns, issues that are causing stress in your life.  Using your fingertips, nervously tap on the drum.  Allow the sound to represent the issues boiling up inside you, pestering you, tapping at you.    As you inhale your next breath, allow your tapping to become full hands-on drum rolling.  Now, at the next exhale, change your playing to represent that exhale by rubbing your drum with your full hand in a swirling motion.  Listen to the sound this creates on the drum.  This windy sound is a representation of the exhale of the breath, of the releasing of stress.  Visualize the calm of your body, mind, and spirit as you let go.  Repeat this exercise as you continue to visualize and kinesthetically release any worries or issues. 

Now, in a calm state, gradually begin to play your own rhythm.  Notice what comes out of your hands when you maintain a calm state.  top

RDA #102- December

The Beat

THE BEAT in music is the driving force, the contageous element, the energy.  Today, choose a song with a beat you love.  Begin your day listening to this beat.  Drive to work moving to the beat.  First move and tap your fingers and feet to the beat of the song.  Dance around if you want.  Next, take time to play along with your drum to the tune.  When the tune has finished, and this is the essential part, don’t stop.  You keep going and take that beat and make it your own.  Improvise, play around with it, change it, allow some freedom and improvisation to come into play.  Use the beat you enjoy as a springboard for your own improvisation.  top

RDA #101 - November

Rhythm Modulation

All day long, we adjust our tempos. We may have to wait in traffic on the way to work, speed up to meet a deadline, or slow down if we’re sick and need to recover.

Before you even touch the drum, you can begin by warming up your human instrument. Rhythm is in most everything you do. In your speech, your walking, and in your breathing to name just a few. Today, listen, look, and feel the rhythms around you. Listen to the rhythm in your speech and the speech of others today. Look around at the tempo of walking. Feel your own breath.

Now take some time to control and change the tempo and rhythm of these biological beats. Do you want to slow down? Try decreasing the tempo of your speech, walking and breathing. Do you want to speed up? Try increasing those tempos. Find a medium point, the tempo that most matches you today.

Whatever rhythm seems to feel most comfortable, put it onto your drum today. Just take a few moments to be with the music and PLAY out your day. Put all the tempo and rhythm changes onto the drum, and then end with the steady place you found for yourself. top

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