Drumming Rhythms and Auditory Processing Problems

by j.d.
(lagrange,id usa)

i have a disorder called central auditory processing deficit.
i am trying to learn african drumming.
as i think it applies to me, i am hindered in comprehending the patterns unless i can translate the rhythm into visual symbols.. .when i hear something spoken, or a pattern played my vision shuts down. Audio messages mix up my visual messages.

Being in a drum circle that is fairly advanced i am challenged by the phonemes that are called out to introduce a new rhythm . If i can't see the visual pattern on the drumhead i can't recall it when i get home. the setting would not allow filming the lessons. i've been told that i have a good measure of body awareness. Yoga and muscle isolation for instance. can you tell me how to make the necessary movies in my head?

Maybe drumming therapy...maybe mindfulness technique. this is an accomplishment which i have on my "bucket list". i have been hacking away at this since 2007. i have seen some improvement. Luckily there is no charge to attend this class/ circle. do you think you can give me any pointers?

Ben's Answer:

This is a very interesting question. Though it may be beneficial to struggle with the discipline of a formal class, I think you would also benefit from a less structured/formal drum class. In a more free form, improvisational drum circle, in which the goal is therapeutic, mindful, with an awareness of the group energy, you might find a deeper way to feel the music without relying on your visual imagery. If your vision shuts down, then let it shut down. In a safe, intimate drumming environment, perhaps you can experiment with trusting your body/energy awareness more, and letting go of your visual focus. Despite our particular neurological issues, rhythm is our birthright and is in every atom of our being. There is a place in you that is a master drummer and this is not of the mind, but of the soul. Body awareness is the easiest way to access that deeper, intuitive sense of rhythm. The real issue is to let go of the mind - and not to "try" to do it right, not to be analytical and not to create tension of any kind.

The natural rhythmic sense is in the letting go.

Drum On!

Best wishes in your endeavors,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist

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