Archive for December, 2006

Statement by Karen Timko, Coordinator of the Los Angeles Unified School District Program Improvement Primary Intervention, on the power of drumming as a tool for school counselors

Karen Timko, Coordinator of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Program Improvement Primary Intervention views drumming as a way to reach greater numbers of kids. She writes:

“As a supervisor of a counseling program in the LAUSD, I am always looking for ways to motivate, support, and rejuvenate my staff who are deployed in the schools hardest hit by the influences of poverty, gangs, drugs, and violence. They have responded with amazing enthusiasm to drumming and recreational music making. I am thrilled that several of our schools have purchased the drums and see the health benefits for themselves as healers and as a tool for facilitating healing and hope in our students.

“As far as drumming and recreational music making, I know of no other intervention that has sparked the interest, enthusiasm, and hope in the counselors I supervise. The process seems to motivate the counselors to use the method with their students while bestowing measurable health benefits in the counselor delivering the intervention. It is a win-win for all involved.

“The value of the arts in healing, whether through writing, dancing, drumming, painting, or any method of self-expression is experienced immediately by the client and virtually no “side effects”. The arts have a way of touching the place within where the soul, the mind, the heart, and the soul converge, awakening the body’s ability to heal itself and to come to terms emotionally with the meaning of the client’s unique experience. ”

UCLA Pediatric Pain Program teams up with Los Angeles Unified School District and Remo, Inc. on pilot study of drumming with 5th grade students

Ping Ho, MA, MPH Principal Investigator
Lonnie Zeltzer, MD, Jennie Tsao, PhD, Jeffrey Gornbein, PhD, Lian Bloch, MA Co-Investigators

The UCLArts and Healing and the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program are collaborating with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Remo, Inc. on a pilot study of a cost-effective drumming program for fifth graders aimed at improving social and emotional well-being. A counselor within the school district will serve as the drumming facilitator, in order to demonstrate real-world feasibility and sustainability. The drumming program, which serves as a non-threatening metaphor for life, offers a therapeutic dimension involving guided interaction and reflection. To maximize the program’s impact, the curriculum will be co-designed by a school counselor, drum circle facilitator, and public health educator.

In June 2005, over 100 LAUSD Program Improvement Primary Intervention Counselors participated in a day-long training program on the use of drumming as a therapeutic tool. In a post-program survey of participants, the following major benefits for students were anticipated: stress reduction, self-expression, emotional release/management, cooperation, self-esteem, centering, and focus.

The choice to focus on fifth graders is based upon research showing that early identification and addressing of problems can prevent lifelong aggressive behavior, substance abuse, and risky behavior. Furthermore, LAUSD Program Improvement Primary Intervention Counselors have found existing behavioral interventions to be less effective at this grade level. Finally, fifth graders are old enough to benefit from therapeutic activities that involve reflection.

Results of a one-day program for school counselors in the use of drumming as a therapeutic tool – counselor perceptions of the benefits of drumming, the likelihood of implementing a drumming program on campus, and perceived barriers to implementation

In academic year 2004-2005, with support from the Salamander Fund, I initiated a free, monthly educational program in Arts and Healing at UCLA to explore ways in which various art forms can enhance emotional and physical health. The program on drumming was attended by 80 people despite one of the worst storms in L.A. history. UCLA outreach efforts attracted the attention of Karen Timko, Director of Program Improvement Primary Intervention Counseling for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), who attended the program on therapeutic drumming along with several of her staff. This ultimately led Ms. Timko to take several staff for intensive weekend training in therapeutic drumming and, later, to provide full-day training in June 2005 for her entire elementary counseling staff (the staff totals 130). I obtained funds from a private donor so that each counselor could each receive an instructional book with rhythmic CD and a drum.

During the training, I administered pre-post surveys in order to determine the effect of the one-day program on counselor perceptions of the benefits of drumming, their likelihood of implementing a drumming program on campus, and perceived barriers to implementation. Ninety people completed the pretest; 49 completed pre- and posttests, for a 54% response rate. Results of the surveys show a significant increase in the likelihood of offering drumming during the school day (from a median of 2 to 6 on a scale of 1 – 7; p <.04) or after school (from a median of 2 to 5; p < .001). Results also showed a significant improvement in the mood of participants as a result of the program (from a median of 5 to 7; p < .001). Major reported benefits for students included: stress reduction, self-expression, emotional release/management, cooperation, self-esteem, centering, and focus. Major benefits for staff included: stress reduction, team building, and burnout prevention. Funding for the drums was the greatest perceived challenge, with obtaining support from administration and other staff as the next highest challenge.

An interesting side observation was that there were several male counselors whose participation increased exponentially when asked to dance in the center of the drum circle.

I believe that if we can document the effectiveness of drumming, we can facilitate administrative support for such programs in schools.

The counselor training was held on June 8, 2005 at the REMO Recreational Center in Burbank, owned by Remo Belli, founder of REMO, Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of drums. Remo, an active philanthropist in Los Angeles, subsequently expressed the desire to collaborate with UCLA in a study of drumming.