Drumming: Challenges for OT


When used in a traditional setting, such as outpatient pediatrics, drumming can be reimbursed if used as a therapeutic activity to reach the child's goals. For community settings, reimbursement is not so straightforward. Many programs may not have the funding to pay for an OT to be there. Often, participation at a community-based organization will rely on the organizations' available grants. 

Lack of Musical Talent

A lack of existing musical talent may pose as a perceived barrier to implementing a group drumming program or activity for some OTs. However, being a skilled musician is not a requirement. The only necessity is a sense of timing or rhythm. 


Group drumming is not likely to make up a 40-hour workweek. Therefore, the clinician must balance their time within another role with their role as a group-drumming facilitator. This can be an added challenge, especially with a full-time job.

Professional Identity

OTs who implement music in their practice can sometimes be confused as music therapists. Although musical therapists are amazing contributors to an interpersonal team, they often have different goals and methods of implementing intervention than an OT. On a personal level, this may only bother some OTs. But on a professional level, it can create confusion and misunderstanding about the distinct benefits of musical intervention from either profession. This has the potential to impact advocacy efforts and perceptions of professional value.

Limited  Research

There is limited evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of a group drumming music intervention but there is a good amount of existing literature that does support the use of music for improving social skills. There are very few articles that address the effectiveness of occupational therapy-based group drumming. It is very much still an emerging practice area.

Continuing Education

Opportunities for continuing education on how to lead group drumming is limited. However, there are programs available for OT's seeking this education that are not necessarily OT specific, but population specific. Review the resources tab under the webpages and documents section to find information on one of these types of learning opportunities called The Rhythm Arts Project.