Drumming out depression
People often talk about the ‘power of music’. In this blog Kane Dodgson from Elephant Creative Thinking describes how one Blackpool project has been having a rather powerful and positive effect on people who have experienced mental health issues.
My whole life I’ve been searching for meaning in chaos and inner peace. It comes from growing up in a complex family dynamic (a family that suffered in every way possible) and from knowing you are starting this adventure called ‘life’ in the worst possible way. I have travelled the world, lived nomadic and been on the edge. I have explored mysticism, alternative lifestyles, religion and psychology, yet all this left me feeling less than satisfied. I now understand it’s the simple things in life that make us well; connecting with people, experiencing new adventures and achieving even minor things.
One of the life lessons I learned along my way was the power of music. I listen to a lot of music and when several days pass with no sound, I know it’s a sign my heart is filling with shadows. So I take my ‘Prozac’; that is – Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’. Two chords in and the darkness is gone.
So if one song can change a mind, lift a mood and set you on a more inspiring road, what would playing music with other people do? I wanted to find out so one Tuesday night, above a shabby pub in Blackpool, I met pStan. pStan (pronounced Stan,… I don’t know, I never asked) is an unusual and inspiring man and a confident multi-talented musician, artist and sculptor with a background in Community and Youth work. He has many projects on the go including ‘Drumming out Depression‘, a Big Lottery funded project that uses drumming to combat depression and build resilience.
Feeling like we belong to or with people and things (a cause, family, person, belief, job, house, identify and so on) is vitally important for our healthy mental state. We need to feel significant to someone or something, so I believe this project will help change people’s lives. pStan and his band of musicians are warm, like family, or the way family should feel. I can understand why so many people come and stay for a while.
What pStan & the Tidal Beats project does is beautifully simple, yet deliciously noisy and effective. Sounds are made, acting on our primordial desire to make our mark on the world. The Drums are our spray cans, the rhythm our graffiti. The circle feels inclusive, complete, safe and charged. You begin to bang the drum, following the rhythm, believing you cannot do it and yet somehow you do, everybody does. It’s hypnotic and works like magic. This experience takes you to a point of being right here, right now. You, the rhythm, the ritual, the sound, the connection to all the other people and all of them connected to you.
As the time approached to wind it up everyone glowed with happiness, even the newbies. Laughter was heard, phone numbers exchanged, conversations and comradeship. I sat there and understood how beautiful and rich this room of souls was. In a town plagued by dark depression Tidal Beats and the ‘Drum out Depression’ project is a testament of light.