Drumming Therapy: Interview with Dr. Barry Bittman and Christine Stevens

Published: Mar. 12, 2007 at 4:52 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 12, 2007 at 5:15 PM HST
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Dr. Barry Bittman, M.D.
Dr. Barry Bittman, M.D.
Christine Stevens
Christine Stevens

ANGELA: Last week, we talked about the health benefits of music therapy, now we find out how drumming strengthens the mind-body connections.  Joining us are two pioneers of the scientific research based on Health Rhythms protocol: Doctor Barry Bittman and Christine Stevens. What is this health protocol, what is it all about?

CHRISTINE: Well, really, what we're looking for is ways to help people de-stress and connect one another in an ancient language that we all knew, which is music, and that's what this program is. It's been scientifically documented to show that what the ancient people always knew about drumming, music making and connecting a community can really help us in our modern lives today.

ANGELA: What does it actually do to your health and your spirit and your mind?

DR. BARRY BITTMAN: I think part of it's involving people in an opportunity to support each other to express themselves creatively in ways that perhaps they had never done before and most importantly, it brings people together. It bridges the differences between people and it allows for unparallel creative expression that really changes our biology and we've been able to demonstrate that on multiple occasions.

ANGELA:  Is there something you can show us that we can demonstrate and do I get to participate?

DR. BARRY BITTMAN:  Of course.

ANGELA:   Alright, great!

CHRISTINE:  So these drums from Remo Drums Company are wonderful. They're from recycled materials and they're weather resistance, we can even be drumming outside in the rain today.

ANGELA:   Oh good.

CHRISTINE:  This is also about communications so I'm gonna play and I'd like you to respond. Just copy what I play.


CHRISTINE:  Now you play something and I'll copy you.

ANGELA:   Okay, let's see.


CHRISTINE:  One, two, ready and ...stop.


ANGELA:   Not bad?

CHRISTINE:  Wonderful job.

ANGELA:   What does it do for people who are under a lot of stress?

DR. BARRY BITTMAN: We've been able to show on multiple levels that by biologically and psycho sociably that we're able to reduce stress, even on the DNA level and what's exciting about this is that stress is one of those factors that contribute changes in us that lead to disease and by doing this, we can keep people healthy.

ANGELA:  Are there any particular diseases or conditions that benefit the most that you can think of?

DR. BARRY BITTMAN:  It's hard to say but from a realistic perspective, this type of strategy is being used for individuals facing the challenges of cancer; for people with cardiovascular disease meaning heart attacks and strokes and also for people with disorders like diabetes or chronic lung diseases.  So there's a wide range of individuals that can benefit and when we talk about group drumming, it works for small children, for adults and of course, for seniors.

ANGELA:  I remember doing something similar in music class when I was in elementary school but it seems like after elementary school was over, it kind of stops, so are we missing out on something as adults?

CHRISTINE:  I think we really are and I think that's enjoyment we all have as children. You know statistically, all two year olds love to make music. We all grew up banging on pots and pans, so that is definitely not something we're learning, it's something remembering.

ANGELA:  And you folks are in town for something special, a special conference, is that correct?

DR. BARRY BITTMAN: Yes, it's actually a training program for Health Rhythms and we've been fortunate enough to work with over a thousand health professionals around the country and in fact, around the world who are taking this back to their hospitals, clinics, rehab centers and really sharing the joy of making music with others.

ANGELA:  And the information is up on the screen so folks can see that Health Rhythms is at the Ala Moana Hotel. It continues through today and tomorrow (Monday, March 12th and Tuesday March 13th). For more information, you can log on to our website at  Thank you both for coming and thanks for enlightening us with this great music.

DR. BARRY BITTMAN: Happy drumming

ANGELA:  Thanks.