Tag Archives: REI drumming

Exploring the Connection Between Drumming and Attention

Aside from the stress-reducing effects of drumming (and playing music in general), drumming activates the brain and can increase focused attention.

The following is an excerpt from my book, Different Drummer, which explores my inspiration for using fast, complex drumming to help with sustaining focused attention. I describe how I stumbled upon the core technique that would be the basis for the stimulation in all our programs and CDs.

You can learn more and order the book here

You can learn more about the REI Custom Program here

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I’m a drummer and a tapper. I drum on everything. All the time. It drives many people crazy. I always thought that my need to drum was just because of my obsession with music and rhythm; but as I was doing some research for an upcoming study on ADHD, I discovered that I’m not alone in my need to tap. 

“Have you ever heard of ‘fidget-to-focus’?” David asked as we were talking about our study. David was a neuropsychologist. He worked at a progressive clinic in San Diego and he was also a drummer. Although ADHD wasn’t his specialty, he was excited about exploring whether my drumming can impact attention. We were planning a study using a Continuous Performance Test (CPT) to collect quantitative data. 

“No, what is it?” I replied.

“It’s based on a study done years ago on coping strategies people with ADHD develop to help them focus. This study was exploring why it was believed that ADHD was considered a childhood disorder that people grow out of as they reach adulthood. It turns out that people don’t necessarily grow out of ADHD. Instead, many people develop strategies to help them function better. The ADHD is still there.”

“So what does fidgeting have to do with it?”

“Well, it seems that fidgeting is one of the most common strategies people with ADHD use to keep their attention. Most are simple things like rocking, shaking a leg, playing with a pen or pencil, anything that uses a motor movement to keep them engaged.”

“Like drumming.”

“Perhaps. Do you suppose there is a higher prevalence of drummers with ADHD than other musicians?”

“I don’t know. That’s an interesting idea, though. Most of the drummers I know are kind of like me. In fact, I don’t know any drummers who are not at least a little distracted, impulsive or hyperactive.”

“That would be an interesting study to do someday. But for now, if we consider fidgeting to help with attention, musical or not, perhaps the rhythm impacts the brain in a positive way.”

“It seems like the case to me, but what does fidgeting mean for our study?”

“Probably nothing, but maybe we can use the concept of fidget-to-focus as a basis for our hypothesis. Didn’t you say that you started developing your therapy from your experiences playing the drums and feeling more focused?”

“Yes. I guess that would be like fidgeting-to-focus. Only I wasn’t doing it solely to help focus. The drumming exercises were homework. And I wasn’t just focusing better while I drummed, I felt more focused afterward. The residual focusing effect was the basis of exploring the drumming for focus. My goal was to see if listening to syncopated drumming rhythms provided the same focusing effect as playing my homework exercises.”

I described to David that one of my challenges while attending the Musician’s Institute was being able to keep up with the pace of my classes. The most difficult for me, and many percussionists, was music theory and composition. I spent a lot of time analyzing music, digging deep into the structures that were being used in rock and jazz music (to this day I can’t listen to the Beatles and enjoy their music for what it is. I always find myself remembering the many hours spent dissecting their songs). As someone with ADHD, focusing on the mundane analysis of music theory and composition was nearly impossible. Contrasted with this was my favorite class, sight-reading, where it was always interesting and, as a result, easy for me to focus on.

Because I wanted to avoid music theory and instead work on sight-reading, I decided that I would reward myself for my theory and composition work by doing my sight-reading exercises before going back to some of the mundane work I was assigned. As someone who was somewhat impulsive and hated delayed gratification, I quickly decided to reverse this plan. Instead of theory first, I would allow myself to spend a half hour or so doing my sight-reading exercises then dig into theory for 30 minutes, followed by another bit of sight-reading. 

The reason I preferred sight-reading was that I was able to play continually unique patterns. One basic exercise consisted of reading rhythm patterns from a book on syncopation, calledProgressive Steps to Syncopation For the Modern Drummer, by Ted Reed. The patterns were random combinations of 8th and 16th notes written across the page, page after page throughout the book.

My assignment was always to choose a page and read it in varying ways. Left to right, top to bottom, bottom to top, right to left, diagonally, whatever. The goal was to always be reading one or two measures ahead of where I was playing. This got me accustomed to reading ahead, therefore when confronted with a new piece of music, I could read, comprehend, and interpret it right away and convincingly perform it the way the composer intended. I loved these exercises. They gave me a rush.

Imagine my surprise when I also discovered that these exercises made doing my theory and composition work easier. After 30 minutes of sight-reading, I’d switch to theory and, to my amazement, could focus. The analysis was easier and the musical structures started making sense. I could even begin to appreciate the simple predictability of the Beatles’ music (especially since I never really liked listening to it – still don’t).

And analyzing more complex music of some of the progressive jazz-fusion bands like the Mahavishnu Orchestra or Weather Report became rote. My grades for the semesters after discovering this sight-reading-then-theory pattern confirmed what I felt. I was focusing better and grasping complex concepts better.

Jeff Strong Plays REI Rhythms for Courage Based on Traditional Ceremonial Drumming

In this video, I show you a traditional ceremonial drumming rhythm used to empower and support courageous action. I then play a meditation using this rhythm as a foundation, illustrating how I learned how to influence the brain and behavior by interacting with my listener.

Join me at my Drum Healing Live! 3-day intensive workshop. April 27-29, 2018: https://www.stronginstitute.com/blog/drum-healing-live/

Offer REI to your clients with our REI Authorized Provider Network: https://www.stronginstitute.com/blog/authorized-provider-training/
Listen to more creativity-enhancing music for free here: brainshiftradio.com
Learn more about REI here: reicustomprogram.com
Learn to play the drum for healing here: drumhealing.com

Jeff Strong Focuses Your Brain with REI Drumming

In this video, I play REI drumming rhythms that you can use to focus your brain. Play this video quietly in the background as you work on a task that requires intense focus.

Listen to more focusing music for free here: brainshiftradio.com
Learn more about REI here: reicustomprogram.com
Learn to play the drum for healing here: drumhealing.com

Reducing Sensory Overwhelm with This REI Drumming Video

In this video, I play REI rhythms to calm your sensory system so you aren’t so overwhelmed by sensory input.

Learn more about REI for sensory issues here: reicustomprogram.com
Learn to play the drum for healing here: drumhealing.com
Listen to more of my music for free here: brainshiftradio.com

Jeff Strong Explores Problem-solving with Rhythmic Drumming Variations

In this video, I demonstrate how a slight change in a rhythm can provide a different meditative experience. I play a 4/4 groove that blends a mambo and a samba. Then I play a 7/8 version that removes 2 beats from the middle of the pattern. Notice how the 7/8 rhythm impacts your problem-solving abilities.

Get the 4/4 drumming meditation here

Get the 7/8 drumming meditation here

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

Explore more problem-solving and creativity music with Brain Shift Radio. Sign up for free at: https://brainshiftradio.com

Jeff Strong Explores How Slight Variations in Drumming Tempos Produce Very Different Calming Experiences

In this video, I talk about the approach I take to create neurological calm in the REI Custom Program versus the approach I use in Brain Shift Radio. I demonstrate how slight variations in tempo can produce significant differences in how a listener experiences calm. I play at 7.4 beats-per-second for a deep, centered calm and 8.6 beats-per second for a focused calm.

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

Find calm with 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 on How I Create REI Rhythms from Ceremonial Polyrhythms

In this video, I show you how I create a composite rhythm from a ceremonial rhythm composed of 4 drum parts. I also describe why it is important to vary a rhythm, no matter how complex it is, to influence the brain and behavior within the alpha state of consciousness.

learn more about REI at: https://www.stronginstitute.com/
Learn to play the drum for healing at: http://www.drumhealing.com/
Listen to my music for free at: https://brainshiftradio.com/

Jeff Strong Talks About the Music of Brain Shift Radio


In this video, I talk about the development of my therapy Rhythmic Entrainment Intervention and the inspiration to create my personalized streaming music site, brainshiftradio.com

You can try BSR for free at: https://brainshiftradio.com/

Sign up for a free Calm audio track.
https://www.stronginstitute.com/blog/custom-calm-opt-in/

You can learn how to play drums for healing at: https://www.stronginstitute.com/blog/drum-healing-opt-in/

Jeff Strong on How to Achieve the Flow State with Drumming

In this video, I describe the state of flow and how to use drumming to induce and enhance it. Flow exists in the transition between the alpha and theta states of consciousness. A rhythm at 7.4 beats-per-second is a great tempo to induce flow.

Tempo is only part of the equation. Flow is characterized by a deactivation of the pre-frontal cortex (a phenomenon called “transient hypofrontality”).

To achieve this state of flow, the rhythms need to be variable enough to entrain the brainwaves to the 7.4 Hz  pace, while not so complex or variable that they activate the brain. This video shows examples of rhythms that are too repetitive (not able to entrain), too complex (activating), and musically variable (just right to entrain and induce flow).

Note: You don’t need to play the drum. All you need to do is listen. If you choose to play, the 7.4 bps tempo is achieved by setting your metronome to 1/4 note equals 111 beats-per-minute and playing 1/16th notes (you play four drumming beats for every click of the metronome).

Learn how to play the drum for the brain at: drumhealing.com
To try my music for flow for free: brainshiftradio.com