Exhibition reveals the healing power of drumming

  • Date

    Wed 5 Jul 23

Owain Wyn Evans, Dr Ruth Lowry, drummer Clem Burke

The healing power of drumming is being revealed as the worlds of rock’n’roll and science collide at a prestigious science showcase.

Blondie’s Clem Burke and record-breaking BBC presenter Owain Wyn Evans have joined forces with the University of Essex for the major event.

Taking centre stage at The Royal Society Summer of Science, days after Clem’s Pyramid Stage set at Glastonbury, the punk legend and Dr Ruth Lowry will shine a light on the science behind the sticks.

Thousands of visitors will get a hands-on chance to learn more about the work of Dr Lowry, from the School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, work – which is changing the way we understand drumming.

Her research, with the world-renowned Clem Burke Drumming Project, proves that getting behind a kit is a powerful tonic for the mind and body.

The collaboration with the University of Chichester, Hartpury University, King’s College London and instrument manufacturer Roland Corporation showed drumming can boost connections in our brains, increase communication skills in youngsters and massively increase cardiovascular fitness.

Clem Burke said: “It is an honour and privilege to contribute to The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

“I would never have believed that what set out as a one-off scientific study in 1999 would have developed into a programme of research that has proven the value of drumming as an activity to promote physical and mental health.

“I am proud to be the figurehead of the Clem Burke Drumming Project and fully support the work undertaken by the band of academics who reside within it, specifically, Dr Ruth Lowry, Professor Steve Draper, Professor Steve Williams, and Professor Marcus Smith.

“Their current plan to continue working in autism and begin investigating new areas, including dementia, stroke and brain trauma is very exciting.

“Who would have thought it, from Blondie to the brain … I always knew there was more to drumming than just having a beer and walking on stage.”

Drummer, radio DJ and presenter Owain Wyn Evans added: “I am thrilled to offer my support to the 'Drumming for Health' exhibit at The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition! Drumming is a huge part of my life, and I know only too well the benefits it brings. I first heard of the amazing work of the Clem Burke Drumming Project (CBDP) whilst preparing for the BBC Breakfast Drumathon for Children in Need. I worked closely with Professor Marcus Smith during the run up, and during the Drumathon itself.

“I was amazed to learn through the CBDP that different regions of the brain become ‘fine-tuned’, through enhanced connectivity, following learning to drum.

“Head on over to the exhibition, meet the team, have a go on the drums and who knows... you may be the next Clem Burke!”

The team from Essex has been tirelessly working on a headline exhibit for the event.

Visitors will be able to pound out a rhythm on professional standard kits, speak to elite drummers and share the knowledge of our researchers.

As well as Essex’s cutting-edge research, visitors will be able to visit ten awe-inspiring stands including exhibits that explore Martian diseases, the mysteries of virtual audio and how micro-bots could transform eye surgery.

Dr Lowry said: “The Royal Society Summer Exhibition is a highlight for any researcher, and I can’t wait to share our work with so many people.

“Exploring drumming has been a real passion for me throughout my career and our work with the Clem Burke Drumming Project has shone a light on how it could transform lives across the world.

"Being able to inspire people of all ages, and to share our passion for science is a real privilege and I urge anyone to come down.”

The Summer Science Exhibition takes place at the Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG until Sunday 9 July 2023. The event is FREE and open to the public. More information is available online.