Home Music therapy The Beat (Drum Circle) continues to Vista del Monte

The Beat (Drum Circle) continues to Vista del Monte


The Beat (Drum Circle) continues to Vista del Monte

Musical groups punctuate the residents of this retirement community in Hidden Valley

By Leslie Dinaberg

The Drumming Group at the Vista Del Monte Retirement Community. | Credit: Erick Madrid

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the spirit, a flight to the imagination and life to everything.


“Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe turns in rhythm. Everything and every human action turns in rhythm.

—Babatunde Olatunji

People of all ages benefit from music therapy, with particularly positive changes for people with autism; visual, motor, emotional, hearing or cognitive disabilities; or high stress levels. With these benefits in mind, the residents and staff of Summer House, which is the memory care unit of the Vista del Monte Retirement Community (vistadelmonte.org) – regularly participates in drum circles.

“The sound waves and the sound of the drums and the feel of the drums are very powerful for those with cognitive problems,” said Helene Hellstern, director of life enrichment for Vista del Monte, where residents meet in a common area called The Alcove. every Tuesday and Thursday. “When we tell people that we are doing a drum circle, they are very willing to participate in this activity, and we usually have at least a dozen people if not more.”

First, there are exercises to warm up your hands and give yourself energy. Next, Hellstern uses a 70-inch computer screen to broadcast images of nature or a particularly stimulating country or culture. “Then we start drumming,” she said, explaining that the groups are usually led by Karen Rojas. “We’re just going to do different rhythms and have residents repeat them. And we always integrate the fact that the residents do their own little rhythm, and so it’s just one person doing their own rhythm and we all repeat it.

The Vista del Monte Drum Circle keeps residents engaged and active. | Credit: Erick Madrid

Music, exposure to the community, and physical activity are all beneficial. “A lot of our residents have mobility issues or aren’t ambulatory, so we tend to just use hand movements, although if people want to stomp their feet that’s definitely encouraged,” Hellstern said. “The movement of the arms or the drum itself is a very good movement. It energizes the whole body and the sound waves because the drum is on their body, they feel it as well as they hear it.

And there is scientific data on how it helps people with memory problems. “They determined that music in particular triggers most areas of the brain,” she said. “And not just the drums, but other music often triggers their long-term memory.”

Drums have also become a tool for therapy beyond the circles. “Sometimes we just take out the drums if what we planned doesn’t quite work – everyone reacts very well to that,” she said. “A truly holistic approach to healing, group drumming breaks down social barriers, promotes freedom of speech, non-verbal communication, unity and cooperation. “

To see vistadelmonte.org.