The Pulse! Story

First encounters with world music are often personal, even intimate experiences, frequently engendering a sudden awareness of local knowledge. That awareness seldom leaves us untouched, rather it transforms us, often deeply.
— Philip Bohlman 2002
  Kathy Armstrong,   MMus, MA

Kathy Armstrong,   MMus, MA

I love to drum. I've been drumming since I was twelve. Drumming has taken me to places I never thought possible, introduced me to incredible people and communities, and transformed the way I think and act in the world.  

Travelling to Ghana, West Africa more than twenty-five years ago was a catalyst for developing my unique freelance career as a percussionist and music educator.  Today, I have a deep connection to my teacher and mentor Kwasi Dunyo,  and his home village of Dagbamete. In studying, teaching and facilitating Ghanaian music in diverse settings over many years, I have observed and experienced the tremendous benefits associated with this drumming and dance. From my own personal transformation, as well as watching the positive effects on individuals and communities that I have worked with, I knew that something important was happening when participating in this music!

I was curious enough about the source of these transformations that I decided to pursue further graduate studies, looking at links between drumming and health. The field is expanding rapidly, due to recent and exciting advancements in neuroscience, ethnomusicology, music education, psychology and health sciences. I designed a research project with a drum and dance ensemble I direct at Carleton University in Ottawa, that examined the positive benefits of participation in the group. The research resulted in my 2016 thesis entitled “Drumming Up Health” for which I was awarded a Senate medal for academic excellence. The participatory and social nature of the Ghanaian drum music lends itself well to a variety of skill levels and experience, making it possible for people to integrate at their own pace. The sense of flow while participating in this music provides many positive mental, social and physical health benefits. The students themselves were open and articulate about the effects of drumming on their wellbeing:

“Afterwards, my spirits were definitely higher than what they were before the ensemble. You just get so pumped and ready for more once the time is over. The songs and harmonies would also get stuck in my head very often which would then remind me of the whole ensemble experience and lift my spirits once again.” -TH, Carleton West African Rhythm Ensemble
"Doing things that were outside my comfort zone (like singing and dancing) gave me confidence. Eventually, fellow members of the group would ask me for help or advice with their parts -that made me feel like a working part of a community" -KM,  Carleton West African Rhythm Ensemble

 

Pulse! Rhythm & Wellness is a natural outcome of my work in this field.  I look forward to having an opportunity to share this knowledge and experience with you!


See more of Kathy Armstrong's biography HERE