It Takes an Orchestra - Drumming for Public Health

"I have found this protocol to be not only fun, but also instrumental in improving the health of vulnerable, hard to reach populations. "

- Dr. Jessie Jones, Chair of Cal State Fullerton's Health Science Department


"Introducing HealthRHYTHMS to our health care partners provides yet another innovative and powerful wellness tool to help our members and community."
- Sandra Rose, director of Community Relations, CalOptima.


As the health care landscape changes, CalOptima, a public agency that provides health coverage, is exploring drumming as an evidence-based tool to reduce stress and boost well-being in the diverse Orange County, Calif., communities that the agency serves.

"Working together with community organizations and agencies is essential for our members as it provides them with additional resources in our community," says Sandra Rose, director of Community Relations, CalOptima. CalOptima provides health care coverage to one in seven Orange County residents and a third of Orange County's children. Health plans include Medi-Cal for low-income families, children, seniors and people with disabilities; OneCare (HMO SNP) for low-income seniors and people with disabilities; and the Healthy Families Program for children of lower-income families who do not qualify for Medi-Cal.

It Takes an Orchestra
A unique symphony of agencies worked in harmony with Cal State Fullerton Department of Health Sciences to create the HealthRHYTHMS™ weekend training program for over 35 health care professionals and community leaders working with diverse populations from delinquent youth to breast cancer survivors to Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and chronic pain. The participating organizations included;
  • CalOptima
  • Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA)
  • Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
  • REMO HealthRHYTHMS™
Dr. Jessie Jones, Professor and Chair of Cal State Fullerton's Health Science Department and expert on senior wellness programs, gave a presentation on HealthRHYTHMS for more than four hundred health care providers at a conference in June, 2011 that inspired Cal Optima to collaborate on bringing HealthRHYTHMS to their members.

The Science of Rhythmacology
"Health Rhythms is a true and tested activity that demonstrates that the use of music and drums in particular can add to the well being of the human condition," stated Remo Belli, founder of Remo Drum Company, the parent organization to HealthRHYTHMS. HealthRHYTHMS™ is an evidence-based approach to whole person care that weaves together proven health strategies with group drumming. In controlled research studies published in peer-reviewed journals, HealthRHYTHMS has been shown to enhance immune function, decrease employee burnout, build a sense of community across diverse populations, and reduce anger in at-risk teens.

The Beat Goes On
Following the training, CalOptima hosted a forum on Creative Strategies for Healthy Living through Movement and Music where over 100 health and social service providers experienced components of the HealthRHYTHMS program. Cal Optima trained facilitators helped lead, uplifting the crowd with their enthusiasm. Inspired by the presentation, Nancy Hendrickson, program manager of the Braille Institute in Orange County, brought HealthRHYTHMS to the annual conference for over one hundred teachers, staff, and volunteers of all five branches of the Braille Institute.

Trained facilitators brought the program to staff, clients, and agencies. DeAnna Carpenter, MS led HealthRHYTHMS at the Orange County Juvenile Hall, middle and high schools throughout Orange County and Girls Inc. of Orange County board of directors meeting. Lola Sablan Santos led HealthRHYTHMS with Chamorro breast cancer survivors, patient navigators and women who are rebuilding their lives due to a divorce, death or other personal tragedies. Youth Development Director Caryn Blanton brought HealthRHYTHMS to Costa Mesa low-income, immigrant families, in an innovative health program; Creating Our Selves, for self-esteem, self expression, self image, and communication style. She also led 8 drumming programs a day at a summer camp in Big Bear, serving kids from San Diego and Compton.

Dr. Jones continues to facilitate HealthRHYTHMS with women veterans. She stated, "When I asked the women to express something on their drum about their experience in the military, the thunder of drums and the release of pent-up emotional filled the room. The release of emotion was cathartic and the healing process clearly began."