The moms of my students are going to love me for this one! And, I do not imply their “sarcastic drum instructor” is far more intelligent than he pretends to be! (My wife reminds me of this when I forget to bring home Milk. LOL!) It is fascinating evidence that certainly supports the important role of being a percussionist!
I came across this research a year ago on how news and analytics site PolyMic compiled a group of studies that indicate drummers are not only generally smarter than their bandmates; they actually make everyone around them smarter too! I like to refer to this formation during my “practice, practice, practice” speeches!
The research suggests that drummers have innate problem-solving skills and a positive impact on communities. Researchers at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet found that, after playing a series of beats, drummers who had better rhythm scored better on a 60-question intelligence test. Seems using all the various parts of a drum kit to keep one steady beat is actually an expression of intrinsic problem-solving abilities. This is a reflection of better problem solving skills, which creates a positive impact on those around them.
Furthermore, other studies show that rhythmic music can actually make other people smarter. A University of Washington psychology professor found that his students got higher scores after undergoing rhythmic light and sound therapy. A University of Texas Medical Branch researcher using the same method on elementary and middle school boys with ADD noted an effect comparable to Ritalin. In fact, the boys’ IQ scores actually went up and stayed up.
Researchers at the University of Oxford discovered that drummers produce a natural “high” when playing together, heightening both their happiness and their pain thresholds. The researchers extrapolated that this rhythmic euphoria may have been pivotal in mankind establishing communities and society. Essentially, drum circles were the very foundation that made human society possible.
Drummers are actually tapping into a natural rhythm found all over Earth. Researchers at Harvard discovered that a drummer’s internal clock doesn’t move linearly like a real clock, but rather in waves. This wavy rhythm pattern is found in human brainwaves, sleeping heart rates, and the nerve firings in felines’ ears. Freddy Gruber, legendary jazz drummer, used to refer to this rhythm being similar to a “tap dance that was always in motion.” Listen to Steve Gadd during his solo in the song Aja by Steely Dan. I remember one of my mentors,
“For years no one has been able to write down exactly what and how that Cat is playing!”
I will never make the statement that starting your kids on drums will make them “smarter.” But there is certainly evidence supporting all music involvement and how it may help children develop in school. Support your school music programs, folks! …especially Percussion! LOL!