Archive for the 'Drumming' Category

Elegy to Remo Belli

Visionary innovator leaves legacy of drumming for healing the human condition.

by Ping Ho, Founder and Director of UCLArts and Healing

Dear Remo,

I will miss our telephone calls that began with ni hao in Chinese and ended with either zai jian or “OOO-K young lady.”

I will miss your strength of conviction, when sharing the harmony you witnessed – in every sense of the word – among diverse participants in drum circles.

I will miss your random exciting news of a connection made around the globe.   Or experiences that validated your observation of the same social conditions everywhere.  Or possibilities for healing individuals and communities, through drumming.

I will miss the twinkle in your eye when revealing the latest invention from your workshop, intended to empower the community with accessible self-expression.

I will miss the Proud Papa tours of your pristine manufacturing plant with happy employees that could easily have replaced the set for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

I will miss the radiance of your inner artist with a pair of mallets in hand.  And the passion for rhythm that you instilled in me.

I will miss your willingness to walk the talk when investing in innovative projects that no agency would have the courage to support.

I will miss the myriad ways that you found to “do well by doing good”.

I will miss your howling laughter whenever I would share an inadvertent business lesson, which you had already known for years.

I will miss the privilege of your mentorship and your faith in our work – and in me.

I pledge to carry on your vision and legacy.

With gratitude beyond words,


– – – – – – – –

For those wishing to learn more about Remo Belli, please see his New York Times obituary.


Do-It-Yourself Music Therapy

Barbara Reuer

by Barbara Reuer, PhD, MT-BC
reprinted from the MusicWorx, Inc. website

When you hear a song you like on the radio, your entire mood lightens. You sing along, hum the chorus, or snap your fingers. Listening to a tape or CD of your favorite artist help you relax or feel more energized. You may even use music to practice yoga or meditate.

When a favorite song comes on the radio, we all turn up the volume and listen more closely or sing along—and instantly feel better than we did moments before. It turns out that there’s a lot of science behind this phenomenon.

New research in the field of music therapy continues to expand experts’ understanding of how music contributes to good health. Whether your taste runs to Bach, the Beatles or Beyoncé, you can use music therapy techniques at home to boost immunity, reduce stress, ease certain symptoms, or just feel and function better overall.

“You don’t need to read music, play an instrument or even sing on key to benefit from music therapy. The ability to respond to music is natural within every person,” said Barbara Reuer, PhD, director of MusicWorx Inc., a music therapy practice and training program in San Diego.

Music’s profound effects on health have been demonstrated in many studies. Examples:

1  When volunteers listened to joyful music, their blood vessels dilated by 26% on average, improving the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients.

2  Increased levels of germ-fighting immunoglobulins were found in the saliva of study participants after they sang and played instruments.

3  Patients listened to music of their choice before, during and after eye surgery… a control group did not listen to music. In both groups, blood pressure rose just before the operation. But in the music group, blood pressure quickly came back down, whereas in the control group, it remained elevated during the procedure.

4  Stroke patients with impaired vision on one side could perceive objects more accurately while listening to music they enjoyed than while in silence or listening to music they did not like.

In a nutshell: Music has been shown to . . .

  • boost the immune system
    • lower blood pressure
    • ease chronic and acute pain
    • relieve nausea
    • improve muscle control (for instance, in Parkinson’s patients)
    • promote visual and auditory abilities
    • improve brain function, focus and memory (including in Alzheimer’s patients)
    • reduce stress, anxiety and muscle tension
    • combat insomnia
    • lift mood

While almost anyone can benefit from music, for a person with a significant health problem, it is most effective to work with a board-certified music therapist, Dr. Reuer suggested. Treatment might include listening to specific types of music, singing, songwriting, playing simple instruments, moving to music and/or doing tactile exercises involving vibration. Some insurance policies cover the cost.

Referrals: American Music Therapy Association phone (301) 589–3300

Try This at Home

For an emotional and physical boost, you can tap into the power of music therapy on your own every day. Dr. Reuer explained, “You’re not just putting on a CD as background music. Instead, you are engaged in the music—for instance, by singing or playing an instrument or by listening to music in a focused, intentional way.” What to do . . .

  • Pick appropriate music. No single style of music is more therapeutic than all the rest. What matters most is the effect that you are trying to achieve and your personal reaction to the music, Dr. Reuer said. For instance, to promote relaxation, listen to music that you find soothing while you practice deep breathing. For pain management, look for music that focuses your mind on things other than your discomfort. To stimulate memory, experiment with music you enjoyed as a teen. To lower blood pressure, use a home blood pressure monitor before and after each music session to identify music that has the desired effect for you.
  • Sing or hum (remembering to breathe deeply) in the car or around the house. If you used to play an instrument, take it up again. Dr. Reuer urged, “Try not to pass judgment on your singing abilities or get frustrated if you make mistakes as you play your instrument. The idea is to be in the moment and just let go.”

Source: Barbara Reuer, PhD, NMT (neurologic music therapist), MT-BC (music therapist-board certified), is founder and director of MusicWorx Inc., a music therapy practice and clinical training program in San Diego, and author of Group Rhythm and Drumming with Older Adults (American Music Therapy).

New Online Creative Caregiving Guide

NCCA Creative Caregiving Guide

Imagine a world where every caregiving act for adults with alzheimer’s disease and related cognitive disorders contributes to quality days for both the caregiver and their care partner.

The public is invited to utilize FREE video clips and curriculum materials developed by the National Center for Creative Aging to facilitate cognition, self-expression, movement and social connection in adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and related cognitive disorders.*

The guide is constantly expanding with lessons for additional languages and cultures.

* Note from Ping Ho, MA, MPH – Founding Director of UCLArts and Healing:

The lessons are applicable to other populations such as special needs and young children.

A moment of creativity and meaning

This delightful message by Arthur Hull, father of the modern day drum circle, shows how we can bring creativity and meaning to even the most mundane of moments – as he transforms a family’s experience in an airport line and helps those around him to rediscover the rhythmical spirit that naturally flows through us as children.

Hello my friends,

…So many of my spontaneous rhythm experiences have been with bored kids doing what they naturally do to pass the time while their patients are getting them from one place to the next…

…I am waiting in the usual airport rope line to go through security to get to the flight gates. It is the kind of airport rope line line that weaves back and forth in order to put the most people in the smallest amount of space. Your always facing two lines of people until you get to the front of the line. One line of people facing are in line behind you, and other line is facing you in the line that is in front of you. A lot of people queued up in a small space.

There is a family of four in line in front of me.

Each of the two boys in this family are seated next to each other in upscale 3 wheeled baby buggies. The father in front dragging the hand held luggage and the mother is behind the boys pushing both baby buggies. I’m behind the Mother.

The oldest boy, 3 or 4 years old, has a plastic fork in one hand and a plastic spoon in the other.  He is beating the butt of their plastic handles down on the buggy tray in front of him, making nice rhythmical sound. (It is a nice sound to me anyway.)

It went like this:

Da • DaDum Dum Dum Dum Dum  •   Da • DaDum Dum Dum Dum Dum  •  ……

His little brother is sitting next to him, with one hand formed into a finger gun pointed at his brother, while making rhythmical gun sounds as he shot his brother.

“Bam” goes the imaginary gun.

What is amazing to me, ( and probably not conscious to the brothers), is they are in perfect sound/rhythm entrainment;

It sounds like this;

Da • DaDum Dum Dum Dum Dum  •   Da • DaDum Dum Dum Dum Dum  •  ……
Bam                      Bam                        Bam                      Bam                       ……

It seemed that no one else but the mother is being irritated by their rhythmical interaction. So before she could stop them, I vocally joined in with a rhythmical syncopated “Peek”.  I did to softly at first, so as to not surprise the boys or disturb their rhythm.

I am closer to the mom than the boys so she picked up that I had joined the boys rhythm ensemble.

I believe that her mothering radar was on, and I am sure that she only hears that her boys might be disturbing the other people in the lines around them. She does not hear the “Sound entrainment” that they are creating, until, that is, I Join in.

Now our rhythm ensemble sounds like this:

Da • DaDum Dum Dum Dum Dum  •   Da • DaDum Dum Dum Dum Dum   •  …… Older Boy
Bam                      Bam                        Bam                      Bam                    •  …… Younger Brother
Peek                       Peek                      Peek                       Peek         •  …… Arthur Elf

Hearing my contribution to the boys rhythm I see that she understands what is happening and literally steps back to make room to let it happen.

I am not sure if the boys ever really heard my sound contribution, but it was a lot of fun. Our interned rhythm lasted over one and a half minutes before the younger brother got tired of shooting his older brother. But until he stopped, he never got out of sync with his brother, even on his last “Bam”.

After the younger stopped Bamming, I stopped Peeking.  At the end of the next rhythm cycle, the mother stopped the older brother’s DaDumming by taking away his plastic cutlery.

A small group of people in the lines surrounding us, gives us a quiet round of applause.

And then we all go back to being travelers in an airport security line.

Life is a dance….

UCLA Integrative Medicine Conference 2014: Creative Arts Therapies Panel

Click here to view the creative arts therapies panel.

Integrative Medicine in the Community through the Creative Arts Therapies:  Experiential Panel Presentations on Creative Arts Therapies at the UCLA Integrative Medicine Conference – March 1, 2014

The creative arts therapies offer accessible, nonverbal and universal tools for facilitating emotional and physical health through a focus on the process of expression, rather than performance or product. The creative arts therapies can offer a humanizing complement to increasingly technological medical care, that can enhance the environment of medicine and address the increasing societal health care burden from chronic diseases rooted in emotions and behavior.

A panel of clinician/scholars from four creative arts therapy disciplines (art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, and music therapy) demonstrate how and why the creative arts therapies are so effective as an integrative medicine discipline.  This remarkable presentation features the layering on of each art form in an experiential presentation.

The 2014 Conference for Integrative Medicine panel presenters include:

Ping Ho, MA, MPH (Moderator) – Founding Director, UCLArts and Healing; Steering Committee member, UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine; member of the Council of Advisers for the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care.

Erica Curtis, MFT, ATR-BC – Past President of the Southern California Art Therapy Association; past board member of the American Art Therapy Association; Instructor at Loyola Marymount University Department of Marital and Family Therapy with specialized training in Clinical Art Therapy.  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Board Certified Art Therapist

John Mews, MA, MTA, MFT Registered Intern – Executive Director and Founder: Mewsic Moves; Board Certified Music Therapist, Marriage and Family Therapy Registered Intern; Special Needs Family and Parenting Coach.

Mimi Savage
, PhD Candidate, RDT – Southern California Chapter President of the North American Drama Therapy Association; Registered Drama Therapist; Drama Therapy Fund Professional Research Grant Recipient for 2014; Instructor for UCLArts and Healing SEA Program.

Lora Wilson Mau, MA, BC-DMT – President of the California Chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association; Lecturer at California State University, Long Beach, Department of Dance.  Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist.

Christine Stevens
Rhythm for Relaxation and Renewal by Christine Stevens, MSW, MT-BC

We are incubated in rhythm. Our mother’s heartbeat is the soundtrack of our first concert in the womb. Rhythm is everyone’s homeland. Perhaps these inner rhythms are why we can be driven by rhythm in two primary directions: to energize and revitalize or to center and relax. The medicine of rhythm is as much what it undoes as what it does.  Rhythm is a healing force that takes us out of our minds and into our bodies, tuning out cerebral thought and activating instinctive primal knowledge.  We can become overthinkers, obsessing about the details of our lives and listening to the endless chatter of self-critique and wandering mental musings of the past or future.  Rhythm takes us to the beat of the now, welcoming us into rich aliveness of every new moment. In this way, rhythm can move us forward in life when we face challenges or feel stuck.  Our bodies become alive in the beat of a good groove, energized in the spirit of rhythm, and grounded in the heartbeat of Mother Earth.


Click here to view Christine Stevens in a brief demonstration  of rhythms for relaxation and revitalization.

View creativity conference videos from spring 2013

Click on the link below to view footage in 18 labeled segments from our April 7, 2013 conference entitled, “On the Edge of Chaos: Finding Flow and Resilience through Creativity & the Arts”.Image

Free audio archive for creative arts therapies

The audio archive for creative arts therapies, sponsored by the Expressive Therapies Summit & Expressive Media’s Institute of the Arts in Healing, gives voice to creative arts therapists and inspiration to students and consumers.

Creative arts therapists may upload up to 2-minutes and 30 seconds of an inspiring story about what they do.

Students and consumers can learn from real professionals about the fields of art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy/psychodrama, music therapy, poetry therapy/bibliotherapy, story/narrative/journaling, expressive arts therapy, and play/sand play therapy.

Click here to listen to, or post in, the audio archives.

Creative arts therapies in a nutshell: video clips of experiential demonstrations of art, dance/movement, drama, music, and poetry therapies

At the 2013 UCLA Integrative Medicine Conference, UCLArts and Healing presented a panel of leading clinician/scholars from five creative arts therapy disciplines (in art, dance/movement, drama, music, and poetry), who each offered an experiential demonstration of the principles of their work, as well as explained the nature of their discipline and training requirements.

Creative arts therapists are professionally educated in both mental health and the arts. They are trained in a variety of approaches with different populations and are able to develop individualized assessment and treatment plans. Rather than focusing on the product, they focus on the process of creative expression, which evokes unconscious information that is reflected upon for insight, self-awareness, and behavior change.

Click on the links below to view footage from the 10″ presentations.  You will see an entire auditorium of people on its feet, dancing.

Introduction to the Creative Arts Therapies – by Ping Ho, MA, MPH and Poetry Therapy – by Robert Carroll, MD

Art Therapy – by Erica Curtis, LMFT, ATR-BC

Dance/Movement Therapy – by Lora Wilson Mau, MA, BC-DMT

Drama Therapy – by Pam Dunne, PhD, RDT/BCT

Music Therapy – by Judith Pinkerton MT-BC/L

Panel Question and Answer Session

Click here for power point slides from each of the presentations.

Is it Art Yet?

Registered Somatic Movement Educator Marilyn McLaughlin, and creator of All Bodies Dance!, shares how freedom from perfection brings joy of creative expression.

All Bodies Dance! is a simple accessible approach to teaching dance and body awareness that celebrates individual differences while also promoting creativity and personal expression. It is a synthesis of all that I know and love in the poetry of dance, theatrical expression, sensory awareness, and music. One moment participants are bopping around the entire room to James Brown getting bone strong with a heavy stomp or a spoke and pump polka, while 5 minutes later they are exploring body part triplet variations to a beautiful Chopin waltz. It’s all easy accessible movement that anyone can do. I am thrilled to be sharing my passion and even more thrilled to facilitate others discovering their own.

With all my years of strict and disciplined training, I rarely exercised the luxury of art making for its own sake, for the purpose of health and well-being, until fairly recently. Though there was certainly plenty of great play and love of process while making dance and theatre works, I always felt the pressure to get somewhere with it, that it had to ultimately be good, if not great. Even simple composition assignments where the goal was to learn and make mistakes while skill building were excruciating for me. I became plagued by a level of perfectionism that ultimately shut me off from the ability to do anything creative if I could not excel almost instantly. That left me with a very small playing field.

One time, I bravely branched out and took a watercolor class. I loved buying the supplies, but I quit painting soon after. I couldn’t master it fast enough. The same thing happened to me with figure drawing and pottery. I loved the idea of it all, but I couldn’t find the actual pleasure in doing it as a novice. I always ended up feeling disappointed with myself. So much for a beginner’s mind.

I would rather doodle. Scribble. Take notes for a poem I was thinking about writing and then leave the paper crumpled in a bush to disintegrate. I would rather just compose dance to the sound of crickets and frogs on my evening walk. It could be a secret between me and Mother Nature.

My first encounter with the true joy of process came to me in spurts during my post-graduate training in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis. LMA/BF is the study of movement expression, observation, notation and body orchestration. Because my teachers often presented the information in the form of play and in the spirit of pure exploration, for the first time in a long time, my love affair with creative movement expression was invigorated and fresh. Not bound to any style or form I felt incredibly free.

A few months ago I developed an intense craving for drumming. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I joined a Saturday afternoon drumming class and rediscovered my own personal version of heaven. A month later, I looked into attending Arthur Hull’s Rhythmic Alchemy Playshop. I had no idea what to expect and I was adamant about “not having the time to play” for a whole weekend. I had never attended a facilitated drum circle, and I was a bit concerned that it would just be a sloppy, groovy free for all.

Within minutes of walking into the room, my patterned response of fear and anxiety came up to bat first. But very quickly, that all disappeared and by the next night, especially after a late night drum circle, I had officially crossed over into pure joy, connection, and celebration. Partnership. Community. Group creation. Liberation. No words. A total paradigm shift. There was no way to get it wrong. I could finally snuggle up to my comfort edge and gently but firmly coax myself into staying with the experience of creativity and the encounter with something new. Simple eye contact, a smile, or a nudge would coax me into allowing a song or movement from deep within me to emerge. Actually it wasn’t new at all. It was more like finally coming home.

All Bodies Dance! classes have enabled women to reclaim a childlike love of dance/movement expression and sensory awareness at any stage of life. It offers an opportunity to stoke the creative fire while doing something healthy, community oriented, and soul nourishing. The time to let our body’s voice sing out with all the life lived, and yet to live, is now.

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