Test for echo

(first published march 2012)

So, the indefatigable Colleen H-H left a reply to my second blog on drumming as therapy.

Well well well …… you have failed to answer a couple or three or more critical points Dr Pete….
1. Did you smile
2. Heck, did you smile
3. Did the ‘groove’ get in you
4. Today are you hankering to have another go
NO to the PDJ, no to the dexterity testing, I won’t and am damned if you do succumb to the science of illness, the measurement of improvement, the hopeless point of charts and the such, in the moment when you were 4′s, 8′s 16′s whatever high hat, black hat, bobble hat….. as I bet you smiled, focused, chuckled, and made a right old noise….where was the PWP ….. where….. NOWHERE TO BE SEEN ….. rest my case…. Drumming is good for the heart, spirit and sheer joy…… will it help me make an origami bird and knit spaghetti ….. now there’s a thought….

I have to say that she’s both right and wrong. Right when she says ‘drumming is good for the heart, spirit and joy’, wrong when she says I failed to answer ‘a couple or three more critical points’. In part 1, I wrote as follows:

I can think of many reasons why drumming could be useful therapy for PWP, but perhaps the most interesting is the psychological effect of hitting something with a stick and its going BOOM! PWP don’t make enough noise, and hitting drums makes you feel quite alive. Very cause and effect. But I thought it would be interesting to see what it felt like. Whether I got what Colleen got.

The case, I think, is unanswerable. It was proven before her comment … which which I agree. One of the things Mike and I discussed was how after I got past a certain point, I was, indeed, concentrating on just doing rhythm, and the PWP was, indeed. Nowhere to be seen. But the PDJ and the dexterity testing are a real issue.
Ok. For those of you lacking this sort of condition, there is, as Colleen points out so forcefully, a fear of succumbing. Not succumbing to the disease itself, but succumbing to the patienthood. This is what she means by the ‘science of illness’. I, too, share her hatred of the PDJ – I am not a x-y axis, I am a free man, etc. I don’t want to be viewed as a series of graphs, I am a whole, is somewhat cantakerous and damaged, individual. As a literary historian, sometime historian of science and musician by training I fall between these two stools. I appreciate fully Colleen’s fear and loathing of the science, while also seeing its utility. How will we improve therapies if we are not prepared to measure ourselves? It’s all well and good observing that ‘drumming is good for the heart’, because as we know the ‘heart’ is phenomenally important in this whole situation, but the head needs some work, too. As Enobarbus said of Antony, ‘When valour preys on reason, it eats the sword it fights with’.
For the record, the rhythm’s been with me for years. The question of whether applying rhythm of a visceral nature can do good stuff to the PWP for longer than the time its being hammered out is an important one.
Oh, and the PWP never disappears, it’s always us. It’s simply that certain activities make it considerably less important. And these activities are to be celebrated.
Did I smile? Probably not. But remember music is not alien to me, so different emotions obtain when I indulge in it (oh, and checking out a vid of C H-H practicing, the look of concentration was intense …). Did I make a right old noise? Probably, but t was controlled, and controlled is what was interesting to me. Was I focused? Damn straight. And that, in itself, is worth the price of admission.
Beware. Drum duets have been known.

She bangs the drum – PD and batterie

“It just seemed like a good idea, you can’t get much more challenging than drumming with PD, and that for me is exactly the point”

‘A combination of making a racket, playing some tunes and being seriously cool comes first, I prioritise ‘life’ ahead of PD, and it works!’

‘The brain remains one of our most undiscovered organs whose to say it won’t ‘re-wire’ enough to give people with PD a better quality of life’

‘Drumming is definitely a cranial work out’

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