—There is new hope for rehabilitating the often angry, detached,
frustrated inner city youth in secure residential treatment centers across the
country, according to a new study recently published in the June issue of the
medical journal, Advances in Mind-Body Medicine.
According to research conducted at the Bethesda Children's Home in Meadville,
Pa., adolescents who participated in a structured recreational music making
(RMM) protocol as part of their rehabilitation process demonstrated
statistically significant improvements in school/work performance and behavior
toward others, with less depression, negative self-evaluation, anger and
interpersonal problems than a control group who did not participate in the music
making activities. A total of 52 adolescents were comprehensively evaluated in
the research study, which spanned more than a year and incorporated the use of
drums and a Clavinova computerized keyboard.
The study was led by neurologist and researcher, Barry Bittman, MD,
CEO/Medical Director of Meadville Medical Center's Mind-Body Wellness Center and
CEO of the Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute. His prior recreational music
making research has demonstrated improvements in mood states, reduction of
employee turnover and diminished impact of stress on psychological, biological
and genomic levels. The study was funded by the NAMM Foundation, with support
from the Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute and Remo, Inc.
"This study is the first of its kind using music as a catalyst for non-verbal
and verbal disclosure leading to improved quality of life for troubled at-risk
youth," said Bittman. "Our research showed how playing music can help them move
past their perceived obstacles and build new bridges."
"The phenomenal breakthroughs that occurred for these adolescents were truly
astounding to observe," said Larry Dickson, MA, Clinical Director for Bethesda
Children's Home. "Resistant kids who entered our facility angry, bitter and
disruptive progressively discovered a productive way to express and better
understand their feelings. Expressing themselves musically as part of a group,
they discovered a new sense of self-worth and respect for others that often led
to surprising transformations."
"The challenges these children face must not be underestimated," said
Bittman. "We believe that this program can be used by thousands of treatment
centers across the country to produce similar results, which, in turn, could
generate a remarkably positive long-term impact on our society."
Billions in Potential Economic Impact
Hundreds of billions of dollars are committed to support disadvantaged
children and their families each year, according to the 2008 annual report of
the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which coordinates the
federal response to juvenile crime. Bittman points out that the cost of
introducing RMM would be very low by comparison.
"RMM is an accessible, affordable and sustainable strategy that can
positively impact juvenile rehabilitation," said Bittman. "Our present treatment
approaches are often ineffective - a fact that often seems unnoticed. In
addition to boosting quality of life and generating positive societal impact,
this unique intervention could save our nation billions of dollars."
How Playing Music Leads to Personal Transformations
During each six-week period, groups of 6 to 12 participants met with a
trained facilitator who guided them through a progressive structured
recreational music making protocol focusing on issues such as self-esteem,
tolerance, dealing with grief and loss, anger management and conflict
As part of the sessions, hand drums and other percussion instruments as well
as an electronic keyboard allowed the kids to express many of their feelings
non-verbally, effectively generating what Bittman describes as the "disclosure"
necessary to help them positively move on with their lives.
Immediately following musical disclosure, participants were asked to complete
statements such as: "When I recall the person I was at the first drum session,
and I think of myself now, I realize..."
(The following two responses are quoted directly from participants.)
"That even though I have been through so much, I am capable to do anything
that I put my mind to. I know that I'm not a failure. I am smart, pretty and
nice with a lot of confidence."
"I should not treat everyone with hatred. I can forgive and I know someone
loves me. It's okay to cry. I know the choices I make will lead me to my
destiny. I know I'm someone now."
Bittman said, "This research represents a meaningful step toward enabling
adolescents to build self-control, self-esteem, respect, empathy and tolerance
for others. With substantial potential for widespread utilization by behavioral
health professionals without prior musical experience, this strategy that can
save a child, transform a community and positively impact society justifies
About The NAMM Foundation
The NAMM Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to
advancing active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting
scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs from the
international music products industry. For more information, interested parties
can visit www.nammfoundation.org
About The Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute
As a not-for-profit 501(C)(4) social welfare organization, YMWI serves as an
organization of excellence dedicated to interdisciplinary development,
scientific investigation, professional training and clinical amalgamation of
active music participation strategies with integrative evidence-based medical
insights for the purpose of enhancing quality of life for individuals of all
ages regardless of race, ethnicity or disability.
About Remo HealthRHYTHMS
Remo's HealthRhythms Division is on the forefront of establishing a solid
foundation for proving the biological benefits of drumming. Neurologist Barry
Bittman, M.D. and his renowned research team discovered that a specific group
drumming approach (HealthRhythms protocol) significantly increased the disease
fighting activity of circulating white blood cells (Natural Killer cells) that
seek out and destroy cancer cells and virally infected cells. Along with
conventional medical strategies, Dr. Bittman includes HealthRhythms group
drumming in many of his disease-based programs at the Mind-Body Wellness Center