Category Archives: Uncategorized

Jeff Strong Compares Brainwave Entrainment Techniques: Drumming vs Binaural Beats

In this video, I compare binaural beats to drumming for brainwave entrainment and describe why drumming is more effective (and versatile). I also play a meditation to demonstrate how entraining the brain to the alpha state works with drumming (starts at 12:04).

To learn more about how to use drumming for healing go to drumhealing.com

Join me for my next Drum Healing Live workshop go to drumhealinglive.com

To try more of my music for free go to brainshiftradio.com

To learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs go to reicustomprogram.com

Case Study: Michael: An 11 year-old with Anxiety, Tics and Sleep Issues

This case study explores Michael’s experience with the REI Custom Program.

Michael is an 11-year-old young man with vocal and motor tics. His vocal tics included grunting and throat-clearing while his motor tics consisted of lip-smacking and picking, neck-rubbing, and finger-bending.

At the beginning of his REI Custom Program, Michael’s tics were present most of time, usually starting just an hour or so after waking in the morning and continuing until bedtime. The degree and intensity of his tics seemed to be related to his anxiety and energy level. If he was tired, he exhibited more tics. Likewise, when he was anxious, his tics were more pronounced.

Aside from his tics, Michael also had difficulty sleeping, both falling asleep and waking at night. Generally it would take him 1 to 2 hours to fall asleep and he would often wake once at night, usually between 3 and 4 am. Most of time he was able to fall back asleep by having a parent lay with him. Other times, approximately 1 or 2 times per week, he would not be able to go back to sleep. Days after this were often times when he his tic behavior was much worse.

Michael also exhibited high levels of anxiety. This was centered around fear of new places, unexpected events, and separation from parents. On a good day he was able to go to school without clinging and displayed only minor trepidation toward new or unexpected situations, such as an unscheduled trip to the store or an event outside his normal routine. His anxiety exhibited itself as clinginess, crying, and tic behavior, most notably vocal tics.

In addition to the tics, anxiety, and sleep issues, Michael also showed classic signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD, ADD, ADHD). These symptoms included restlessness, inattention, impulsive behavior, and low frustration tolerance. It is not uncommon for ADHD symptoms and tics to occur at the same time. In fact, many refer to Tourette’s Syndrome (a severe form of tic disorder) as ADHD with tics. In Michael’s case, the tics were very pronounced whereas his ADHD-type symptoms were less significant than is usually the case when tics and ADHD are combined. This was evidenced by the fact that he was not diagnosed with ADHD.

The goal for Michael’s REI Custom Program was to improve his sleep and reduce his tics and anxiety. Additionally, we intended to improve his ADHD symptoms. This was a lot to accomplish with the program, so the key was to prioritize the focus of his program. We decided to focus on his anxiety and sleep first. This is because:

Sleep: Sleep is essential in moderating any of these symptoms, so improving his sleep would likely also improve some of his other symptoms. As well, according to Michael’s intake, his tics were more frequent and intense when he was tired.

Anxiety: Anxiety was a major issue for him in general and also exacerbated his tic behavior. Reducing his anxiety should not only help with the clinginess and crying incidents, but should also help with the tics.

Track #1: Michael began listening to his track at bedtime. The first night he was calmed while the recording played, but he didn’t fall asleep right away. According to his parent’s feedback, he was calm enough that his dad was able to leave room and turn off the light without incident, even though he took a while to fall asleep. This pattern continued for most of his first week. At about day 8 he fell asleep while the recording played and slept through the night.

During this first track Michael exhibited less anxiety over everyday changes, such as going to school or therapy sessions, where he is separated from his mom. His vocal tics were slightly less frequent, while his motor tics remained pretty much the same.

Tracks #2 and #3: These tracks continued to improve his sleep and reduce his anxiety. He was able to consistently fall asleep while the recording played and only woke up two nights. He was able to fall back asleep both nights that he awoke. This was a significant improvement over his historic sleep patterns. His anxiety was better than before the program started, but still manifested as separation anxiety in some situations.

His tic behavior was variable, with some days being better than others. Overall, his vocal tics were less than before the program according to the tracking documents completed by his parents. His motor tics were largely yet unchanged.

Track #4: For most REI Custom Programs there is a significant jump in the stimulation level of Track #4 as we adjust the focus of client’s program. This was the case with Michael. Because he showed improvements in sleep and some changes in anxiety, it was determined that this REI Track would focus more on his tics, particularly the motor tics, which up to this point had only marginally improved.

The first three days went well – his tics, both vocal and motor, decreased significantly in frequency. He had periods during these days when there was no visible tic behavior. Unfortunately on day 4, he began waking up at night again (something he had not done for almost 3 weeks). This trend of improved tic behavior and night-waking continued for the remainder of Track #4 (6 more days).

Track #5: Because of Michael’s change in sleep patterns, we chose to reduce the stimulation level of this track. This was trade-off between his improving tic behavior and his sleep patterns, but it was chosen because good sleep is important not only to functioning well in general but also because his tics often get worse when he is tired. As well, disrupted sleep patterns during the REI Custom Program usually indicate over-stimulation and the best way to counteract this is to reduce the level of the stimulation.

As expected his sleep improved, but also as expected we observed an increase in his motor tics. His vocal tics remained nearly non-existent. His motor tics, though higher than they were toward the end of Track #4, were still below the level that they were at the beginning of the program, so we were encouraged by his overall progress.

Tracks #6 through #8: We continued the dance between uninterrupted sleep and reduced tics during this three-week period. At times his sleep was off (Track #6) while his motor tics abated. And at times his sleep was good but the motor tics increased (Track #7). This was an interesting development because we always felt that good sleep always contributed to fewer tics. The problem was that it appeared that the type of stimulation needed to help with the tic behavior was disrupting his sleep.

By Track #8 we decided to go with the stimulation that would help with the tics and add a track to play at bedtime for sleep. We asked Michael’s parents to play Track #8 (and the rest of his REI Tracks) during the day and a special REI Program Sleep Track at bedtime. After a few days settling into a schedule that worked – they chose to play the Custom REI Track during breakfast – Michael’s sleep returned to where it was after track #3, with him falling asleep with 30 minutes of turning off the light (and turning on the REI Program Sleep Track) and staying asleep most nights.

Based on his parents’ observations, his motor tics remained somewhat variable, but their frequency overall was down from the beginning of the program. Stressful situations, as expected, increased tic activity. Because his anxiety overall was lower than when he began the program, he seemed to be less bothered by situations that used to be stressful for him. There was no observance of vocal tics during Track #8.

Tracks #9 through #12: Michael’s tic behavior was variable but showed steady progress. The vocal tics were essentially absent and there were longer periods of time with few, if any, motor tics. At one point during this period he caught a cold and his tics increased. They reduced again once his cold was over. This demonstrated more overall improvements but also suggested that stress on his system, both physically and psychologically, still had an impact on his tic behavior.

Michael’s anxiety remained low and his sleep was good, with only the occasional bad night’s sleep. Over the last 6 tracks or so he also improved in some of his ADHD symptoms – he seemed less restless and exhibited a greater ability to handle new situations and life’s frustrations.

The end of the 12-Track program: Michael made significant gains in his sleep, anxiety, and tic behavior during the 12-track program, with minor changes in some of his ADHD-type symptoms.

Sleep: Before beginning the REI Custom Program, he often took 1 to 2 hours to fall asleep. He awoke at night several times per week and many times was unable to fall back asleep again. By the 8th day of the Program, his sleep had improved significantly. This made an impact in many ways, including reducing his tics and lowering his anxiety and frustration intolerance.

Anxiety: At the beginning of the Program, Michael’s day was ruled by anxiety. He was clingy with his mother and fearful of new and unexpected situations and events. Within just a few tracks, his anxiety was noticeably lower. He exhibited less clinginess and became more relaxed in general.

Tics: Before REI, Michael’s tics were near-constant and impacted his life significantly. The vocal tics – grunting and throat-clearing – were especially bothersome because they impacted him negatively in social situations. With these gone and the motor tics much reduced, he is now more comfortable interacting with his peers and is receiving less negative peer attention.

ADHD-type symptoms: Even though the focus of Michael’s REI Custom Program was not directed to his ADHD-type symptoms of restlessness, inattention, impulsivity, and frustration intolerance, he did show some improvements in some areas. As his tics decreased, his restlessness also appeared to reduce. This is likely due to the tic behavior appearing as restlessness or fidgeting.

Michael also showed some improvement in frustration tolerance. This coincided with his improved sleep and reduced anxiety, suggesting that this symptom was caused, at least in part, by his poor sleep and high anxiety levels. Likewise, as his sleep, anxiety, and tic behavior improved, so did his attention. There was no observable change in his impulsivity.

Based on his progress it was decided that Michael continue receiving tracks until there was less variability in his tics and anxiety. We also were ready to begin a more direct focus on his attention and impulsivity.

Improving Mood with REI Drumming: An excerpt from Different Drummer Book

DD-Front-cover-25This excerpt follows two clients, one teen and one adult. who listened to drumming to help their mood.

You can learn more and order the book here

You can learn more about the REI Custom Program here


“Logan came home the other day from school, ran straight into his room, and turned on his CD. I asked him what he was doing and he said that listening was his reward for getting an A on his math test,” described Kim, his mother.

“That’s great. It’s always a good thing when teens take the initiative to play their REI music on their own,” I said. “That’s a big change from last month when he wouldn’t listen at all.”

“Absolutely. He has taken ownership of the process. I can see his mood lifting. He cares about his schoolwork now and he’s getting involved again in activities at school. Before he started listening to the drumming, he just wanted to come home and stare at the screen.”

Logan was having difficulty in school, socially more than academically, when he began the REI Custom Program. He was slightly shy, though he had a couple of friends. Having recently turned fifteen, he had become moody and withdrawn. 

Teenagers can be hard to reach. Whenever I run into a clients’ resistance to listening to the drums, it’s usually with teens. Logan was initially resistant, saying that he didn’t want “anyone messing with his head”. 

Because Logan was not interested in the drumming – he often told his mother how weird he thought it was that she attended my drumming classes – we decided that I wouldn’t play for him live. Instead, she and I would talk about Logan’s issues and her goals for him. From that, I would make a recording that Logan would listen to before going to bed.

“He doesn’t want to do anything. He used to be so bubbly and energetic, but now he is so lethargic and down. Getting him up in the morning is impossible and he just drags himself through the day. His grades have slipped and he is distancing himself from his friends,” explained Kim during Logan’s intake interview. “Do you think the drumming can help?”

“I don’t know,” I answered. This was fairly early in the process of developing the REI therapy and I hadn’t yet worked with any teens with mood issues. I knew I could help with anxiety or attention and I told her that, but the mood would be something we’d have to evaluate as we went along.

“If you’re okay with feeling our way through this, I’d love to give it a try,” I said.

“I usually feel so good after the drumming class that I can’t imagine it wouldn’t help Logan,” she replied. Kim had been coming to my drumming classes for a few months. This was the reason she approached me about working with her son, even though he didn’t have autism or ADHD, the conditions I would often talk about during class.

This wasn’t an unusual request. Even from my earliest days of exploring how the drumming may work outside of its cultural context, people approached me and asked if what I was doing could help them or their children. This led me to work at Pathways, a center for people with chronic illnesses where I worked with clients with a large variety of chronic conditions, from pain to HIV, CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) to depression.

One client, Jamie, was recently diagnosed HIV-positive and was feeling pretty hopeless about his life. He was 28 years old, generally healthy and not symptomatic, but he felt that he really had no future. I was worried when I first played for him because the entire time I drummed he sprawled on the couch and cried. These were not quiet tears, rather they were plaintive wails with full-body convulsions.

“Are you okay? Would you like me to stop playing?” I asked, as I stopped, concerned that I was making things worse. 

“No, I’m fine. Please keep playing,” he answered between sobs. “This is the best I’ve felt in a long time.”

I looked at him, not sure what to say or whether to believe him. Jamie, I would learn was a dramatic guy. He did everything in a big way and crying was no exception.

“Really,” he sniffled, “I feel this deep well of grief and sadness purging from my body. Please keep playing.”

“Okay, but tell me if you need me to stop.”

I began playing again, searching for the most uplifting rhythms I could think of, careful not to deepen his mood. I understood catharsis and knew he had a great support system in place so I wasn’t concerned about him in general, but I was a little uncomfortable with such a dramatic show of emotion.

I kept playing until our session time was up. Jamie blew his nose, wiped the streaks from his face, gave me a hug, and left with a smile and a bounce in his step.

I met with him once a week for most of the summer, each session mirroring the others, with Jamie sobbing while I played and then leaving uplifted.

In mid-September he arrived at his last session and handed me an envelope. “This is my new address,” he said. “I’m following my dream and moving to San Francisco. I’m not going to let this disease stop me from living my life. Wish me luck.”

“Good luck,” I said as he bounced out of the room. I never saw him again. I don’t know what impact our drumming sessions had on his overall perspective and life choices, but I learned a lot about how to play for someone who was grieving and how to stay with someone as they moved through their emotions.


 

Check Out Jeff Strong’s Podcast Interview with Tami Simon of Sounds True

I’ve  been honored to work with Sounds True over the last 10 years – one of my favorite publishers – where I created 8 CDs and 2 audio programs. That honor continues as I talk about drum healing and REI with founder Tami Simon on her podcast, Insights at the Edge.

From Sounds True:

ST-podcastIn this episode of Insights at the Edge, Sounds True founder Tami Simon speaks with Jeff about the concept of brain entrainment through rhythm and how it has deep roots in tribal ceremony. They talk about the therapeutic application of this music for anxiety, ADHD, autism, and mood disorders, and explain the difference between rhythmic entrainment and “neuro beat” recordings. Finally, Jeff offers two excerpts of his music for calming and the exploration of deep meditative states.

Listen to or download the podcast here

Learn more about Sounds True here

Try my music for free here

Learn to play the drum for healing here

Check out the REI Custom Program here

Complex Drumming for Pain Relief? Jeff Strong describes how calming the nervous system reduces pain

Using complex drumming to calm the brain for pain reduction requires more stimulation than simply calming the brain in general. In this video, I show you how this counter-intuitive approach works.

Learn about the REI Custom Program at: https://www.stronginstitute.com/rei-custom-program/

Learn how to play the drum for healing at: http://www.drumhealing.com

Explore more calming music on Brain Shift Radio. Sign up for free at: https://brainshiftradio.com

Jeff Strong Shows How Slight Variations in Drumming Tempo Impact Your Experience

In this video, I show how varying the tempo of a drumming pattern can impact your listening experience. I compare a steady 8-beat-per-second rhythm to the same basic rhythm that varies between 8-beats-per-second and 9-beats-per-second.

Get the Steady Tempo meditation here

Get the Variable Tempo meditation here

Learn how to play the drum for healing at: http://www.drumhealing.com

Explore more variable tempo tracks on Brain Shift Radio. Sign up for free at: https://brainshiftradio.com

Jeff Strong Plays Rhythms to Help You Transition to Sleep

In this video, I talk about the the perfect tempo and style of music that will drive your brain into a pre-sleep state. I then perform musically-variable rhythms at 7.4 BPS for about ten minutes to help you transition to sleep.

Learn how to play the drum for healing at: http://www.drumhealing.com

Fall asleep with Brain Shift Radio. Sign up for free at: https://brainshiftradio.com

If you are having trouble staying asleep or are not feeling rested in the morning, please check out our REI Custom Sleep Program. This program is currently 50% off. Get the six-week program, including unlimited revisions, for just $147. Check out the program here and save 50%.

Jeff Strong Shares 5 Things to Do Every Day to Optimize Your Ability to Focus


In this video, I talk about the 5 key strategies I employ every day to optimize my focus. These are essential for people like me, with ADHD, to keep an unruly brain on task. Of course, you’ll also want to add listening to some of my focusing music to this list.

Get a free focusing audio download here: https://www.stronginstitute.com/blog/custom-focus-opt-in/

Listen to personalized music for focus for free here: https://brainshiftradio.com/

Learn to play the drum for healing at: http://www.drumhealing.com/