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Beating Stress -- on the Drums

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Music therapist Barry Bernstein says he isn't surprised by the research, but no less delighted. "I'm not a doctor. But when this research came out I was thrilled. I do a lot of programs -- sometimes four a day, taking down and setting up. It's quite arduous, and my body pays a toll. Sometimes I go into a program not feeling well and every time I start drumming that goes away."

Bernstein, who founded Healthy Sounds in Overland Park, Kan. to spread the percussion-health message, has a theory why drumming might work. "There's something about the vibration. It's tricky, because I don't speak from a highly scientific background on this. But the vibration organizes the water in our bodies. Part of it is, I think, the water in our bodies is getting organized at the cellular level."

The Bittman study appears in the latest issue of Alternative Therapies, along with another piece of research dealing with the therapeutic effect of sound. This one, conducted with 15 subjects at the Clinique Psyche in Montreal, sought to find whether binaural beat tapes could ease mild anxiety. These tapes produce two sounds at a time -- one in each ear -- which are similar. Some research suggests these binaural beats induce changes in brain electrical activity which correspond with relaxation.

The conclusion of the researchers -- based on information that was self-reported by patients who listened to the tapes at home for four weeks (and not always as instructed) -- is that the tapes do seem to have a therapeutic effect.

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