Drumming & Disabilities | Attention to Task, Social Connection, Stress Reduction, Self-Expression Through Rhythm

About: Drumming & Disabilities Training

Drumming & Disabilities training is a step-by-step system developed by Jim Donovan M.Ed. at Saint Francis University that is designed to show anyone how to facilitate and lead rhythmic and percussion strategies with individuals on the Autism spectrum and other disabilities.. These interventions are designed to meet goals such as: (1) increased attention to task,  (2) non verbal expression, (3) socialization and (4) stress reduction


Drumming & Disabilities training helps you to learn how to musically engage the people you work with through a variety of methods such as "Percussion Intervention" which has been shown to significantly improve their attention to task in children with Autism and increase their overall level of engagement with caregivers. Research so far has demonstrated average increases in attention to task of 189% in as little as 12 weeks. 


Group music making gives people with social challenges an alternative way to communicate and be in community with others without the worry of being "good at music". Drums and percussion are remarkably effective ways to bring people together in an enjoyable way. Drumming & Disabilities training offers your clients fail-proof opportunities to make music with others on their terms in a welcoming container of safety.

Stress Reduction

Drumming & Disabilities training infuses the natural ability of rhythm to calm the human mind and body.  

Through the conscious use of tempo, instrument choice and timbre, you can help your clients to release excess energy and become more calm- naturally.

Drumming & Disabilities trainee and research partner Dr. John Biever MD and friends drumming together at Quittie Glen in Annville, PA

Drumming & Disabilities trainee and research partner Dr. John Biever MD and friends drumming together at Quittie Glen in Annville, PA

What Will You Learn?

By the end of this training you will know. . .

A philosophy of inclusive and accessible facilitation.
Methodology for creating safe, accepting and positive environments.
Methodology and examples of four Percussion Intervention foundation templates.
The research behind the techniques.

By the end of this training you will be able to. . .

Facilitate percussion intervention techniques with children on the Autism spectrum and other disabilities.
Adapt percussion intervention techniques to their own specific client needs.
Design their own unique percussion interventions


I have never facilitated, taught music. Will I be able to do this? Yes. Drumming & Disabilities Training welcomes persons of all experience levels including those with no musical or teaching experience. You will not need to know how to read musical notation, nor will you need a background in music theory. The training is designed to take you as you are and give you the skill sets you need to begin creating your own rhythm-based interventions. 

I already have music therapy, musical teaching and/or facilitation experience. Will I learn anything new at your training?

If you already have music therapy, musical teaching and/or facilitation experience, you may be familiar with some of what will be shared. That being said, this training is unique in the way it shows you how to both perform and create your own unique interventions. 

Is a Percussion Intervention Music Therapy? No. 
While Drumming & Disabilities Training and Music Therapy both share the tool of music in their respective approaches there are important differences. Music Therapy is a highly regarded field in which the practitioners spend many years of schooling learning to apply a wide range of techniques to a many different needs and situations. Drumming & Disabilities Training teaches you adjunct strategies that anyone can learn in a short period of time. A typical training is 5-6 hours.

Do I need my own drum for the training? No, we provide drums and percussion for participants to use during the training. We can also connect your organization to cost effective instrument resources.


    •    How to create fail-proof events by empowering participants
    •    How to inspire collaboration in your circle
    •    How to lessen and eliminate resistance from your groups
    •    How to create an infinite source of rhythms with "Rhythm Seeds"
    •    Social drum circle games for anyone
    •    How to integrate percussion and budget friendly instruments
    •    How to lead and shape drum circle music
    •    How to gain the trust of your group
    •    How to use drumming & sound for wellness and stress relief
    •    How to design your own effective percussion interventions & programs

Learn about...

Inclusion regardless of ability
Letting go of perfectionism
Being present as a leader
Serving the group
Finding ways to flow with change
Learning the value of collaboration
How to manage mistakes
How to empower your participants
How to create fail-proof drum circles
A wide variety of malleable drumming and voice methods
How to build your own event from the ground up
How to inspire and hold the attention of the most unruly groups
How to play the various drums and percussion commonly used in rhythm events
How to use rhythm to lead educational experiences

Who Should Attend?

Anyone who works with people with Autism
Music Therapists
Music Teachers
Drum Circle Facilitators
Therapeutic music makers
Occupational Therapists
Social workers
Physical Therapists
Behavioral Health Care Professionals
Sexual abuse and domestic violence counselors
Alternative healers
After school activity directors
People who work with disadvantaged youth

“This time of year is always difficult when working with elementary children. We always begin each music class with drumming, so I began including the “stopwatch” exercise last week to help my classes focus. What a difference! (I also tried this last night with my 4-year-old to help him get to sleep... amazing!)

We’ve also been implementing some of the drumming exercises with our severely autistic students. It has been wonderful to watch them light up with excitement at the sight of the instruments! Several of the students even have parts of their IEPs structured around drumming.

Your work continues to make a difference in the lives of children... beyond what you may ever know. Thank you!”
— Travis Leap, Elementary General/Vocal Music Claysburg-Kimmel Elementary School

Find Out More About How To Bring a Training To Your Organization

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