The short term effects of small group hand drumming on mood, group cohesiveness and rhythm perception

Date of Completion

January 1999


Music|Psychology, Social|Psychology, Personality




Responses of undergraduate student-participants were measured to determine the short-term mood, cohesiveness, and rhythm perception effects of facilitated, small group rhythmic hand drumming. Three control conditions served to isolate the effects of the rhythm-making experience per se; “cooperative task,” “aerobic exercise,” and “music listening.” Self-report measures inquiring about bi-polar mood states, group cohesiveness and rhythm perception were completed by 304 male and female undergraduates (mean age = 19 years). Drumming sessions were videotaped and rated by expert observers for musical cohesiveness. Group cohesiveness was operationalized as interpersonal attraction and task commitment. Main effects for the mood state scale of “Elation-Depression” and for Group Cohesiveness were found. Significant results were not weakened by covarying out the effects of elation-depression for group cohesiveness and vice-versa. There was also evidence of perceptual rhythm differences and musical cohesiveness effect. Applications of group drumming as a tool to benefit society beyond making music for pleasure and creativity alone are discussed. Specifically, group drumming as a prime for group psychotherapy and as a unique training technique for organizational development are proposed. ^