Drum Therapy: An Introduction

Pat Gesualdo : Modern Drummerby Pat Gesualdo

This monthly column is designed to assist drum instructors, doctors, and teachers in helping their special-needs students and patients develop physical and cognitive functioning via the drumming art form. Each month I’ll guide you through the Drum Therapy process, how it works, how to become a certified drum therapist, and how you can help your special-needs students get the most out of their drum lessons. Since this is an extremely intricate subject manner, please always feel free to write me at the email address below with any questions.

From time to time I will also discuss the involvement of the nonprofit organization D.A.D. (Drums And Disabilities), which New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration helped me launch as a special-education pilot program in the NYC school system. It is here that many top celebrities, sports stars, community leaders, and major corporate executives join me in helping children and adults fight learning disabilities throughout the world, with Drum Therapy and the D.A.D. program. Most important, however, is how you can join us in this effort and help the special-needs population right in your own community.

Although Drum Therapy is not for every drum instructor, many of you have asked to help in some way, even if it’s just getting the word out in your area or helping with any one of our high-profile events throughout the world. This is just as important, and it helps us reach even more special-needs children and adults, so they too can enjoy drumming and at the same time develop their vocal communication, self-esteem, retention, coordination, and physical and cognitive functioning. Advertisement

Now I’d like to lay out the objectives of Drum Therapy, which combines the principles of physical and cognitive functioning with drumming. It is used as an intervention to provide the special-needs community with the opportunity to participate in creative verbal and nonverbal expression. Psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, behavioral therapists, school systems, special-needs providers, and drum instructors from the U.S., Bosnia, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia, London, South Africa, and other countries are licensed in the D.A.D. program’s Drum Therapy curriculum.

Drum Therapy comprises cognitive-restructuring and social-skills interventions, which are valuable diagnostic tools in expanding physical, mental, emotional, social, and cognitive development. It combines visual, rhythmic, auditory, and verbal approaches and helps participants meet the goals and objectives for improvement in fine-motor-skill and cognitive functioning. Participants grow both cognitively and emotionally, and they gain self-esteem through the creative process of Drum Therapy.

Drum Therapy participants learn problem-solving strategies, improve patience and perseverance, develop coordination and retention, and also develop social skills, sensitivity, cooperation, and conflict resolution. Advertisement

Drum Therapy is beneficial to all participants. The population targeted for these services are those special-needs children and adults whose disabilities have impacted or reduced their physical and/or cognitive capabilities. Its nonthreatening, fun nature makes it appealing to all age groups. Participants’ music abilities and works are not graded, and program modalities are tailored to meet the specific needs of all participants, who are not required to have specific skills or talent.

Every participant can, and does, grow from the Drum Therapy intervention. Participants in Drum Therapy sessions might have experienced failure in their previous school classes or social settings, whether primarily because of behavioral problems or a combination of their specific disability with a behavioral problem. As a result, these participants need to experience success—and they will find success with Drum Therapy. As their physical and cognitive abilities grow, participants are anxious to return to Drum Therapy sessions, and a trusting relationship is built between each participant and the drum therapist. This trusting relationship opens the door to communication, which becomes the foundation that allows for behavior modification and emotional healing to begin.

Drum Therapy is a main segment of the 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization D.A.D., which helps children and adults with autism, dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Tourette’s, Asperger’s, OCD, ODD, and other disabilities develop and expand retention, coordination, self-esteem, and physical and cognitive functioning. D.A.D. was originally launched in several New York City schools and communities and is now featured in numerous schools and communities throughout the world. D.A.D. also features lectures and workshops on the latest research, advice, and teaching methods, to help parents and teachers raise and teach special-needs children. Advertisement

D.A.D. is certified by the State Department Of Education as an official teacher-training program. Among the celebrities, professional athletes, politicians, and major corporations that have joined forces with the program are Senator Anthony Bucco, the New Jersey Department Of Education, the Star Ledger newspaper, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Morris County Park Police, Pepsi-Cola, the New Jersey Education Association, the WWE Superstars, the New Jersey Nets, the New Jersey Devils, the New York Giants, the Meadowlands Chamber Of Commerce, Zildjian Cymbals, and Modern Drummer magazine.

Thank you for taking the time to find out about Drum Therapy and the D.A.D. program. Next month we’ll share information on how to help your special-needs students or patients. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me at to ask questions and to receive further information on becoming a certified drum therapist or how you can take part in D.A.D. program events right in your own town.

Pat Gesualdo is an award-winning drummer, author, and clinician who has performed and recorded for various Columbia, Warner Brothers, Atlantic, RCA, and Paramount Pictures artists and special projects. He was nominated to Who’s Who In America and was an associate voting member for the Grammy Awards. He is the author of The Art Of Drum Therapy. For more on Gesualdo and the D.A.D. program, go to,,, or Advertisement