Drumming Up Health: A Case Study of Carleton University's West African Rhythm Ensemble

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Armstrong, Kathleen




There is recent, compelling research that clearly documents the positive role that music-making plays in an individual’s and community's well-being (Stige 2006, Thaut 2013, Turino 2008). Rhythm, in particular, has been shown to connect people with each other, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote feelings of empathy and community (Berlyne 1971, Clift & Hancox 2010, Thaut, 2013). The vibrant and energetic experience of participating in a drum and dance ensemble underlines the powerful forces at play in participatory music, and the mental, physical and social health benefits it can provide. This thesis examines the ways in which participation in the Carleton University West African Rhythm ensemble contributes to positive health and well-being for the students involved. Through email and audio interviews, and written surveys, this case study provides persuasive evidence of the value of inclusion of this style of music and dance in educational, therapeutic and community settings.  


Cultural Anthropology
Mental Health




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Music and Culture

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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