Drumming: Application

OT Role Fulfillment 

The application of drumming within OT  can be done through a variety of roles and approaches. Below are some examples and ideas to help you envision just a few of the possibilities.  


  • Educate employers and stakeholders of the benefits of OT-based group drumming
  • Provide information on community-based opportunities for musical activities to facilitate social participation that your clients can participate in outside of OT as well


  • Present at state and national conferences
  • Include education on incorporating musical elements into group interventions


  • Create group drumming programs
  • Market yourself to local organizations that serve special needs populations, assisted living facilities and nursing facilities

Leader / Administration

  • Mentor an OTD student who is interested in music and/or drumming interventions
  • As an OT who implements musical interventions, create "How to" videos and share on public platforms to provide learning opportunities for others


  • Conduct original research with a specific population of interest


  • Help create a program at a recreation program or community center that may not have an OT, but who's population would benefit from OT related concepts
  • See treatment ideas below  

Direct Service Provider

  • Drumming can be a great way to focus on impulse control, crossing midline modulation, and pacing.
  • Adding drumming as an intervention can help work on these skills in a creative way that's fun for the child 
  • See treatment ideas below 

Suggested Frameworks & Models

  • Frame of Reference to Enhance Social Participation 
  • Model of Human Occupation (MOHO)
  • Olson's Frame of Reference to Enhance Social Participation 

Suggested Assessments

  • The Social Profile Assessment 
  • Sensory Processing Measure
  • Social Skills Rating System
  • The Child and Adolescent Scale of Participation (CASP)

Treatment Ideas

  • Have participants share instruments (switch between types)
  • Have participants take turns playing soft, loud, fast, and slow
  • The hot and cold game: Have a participant hide an object and use the drums to help find them by playing soft when they're far away and loud when they're close to the object
  • Pass the beat game: Have a participant come up with a rhythm and then pass it around the circle using verbal or non-verbal communication
  • Give participants an opportunity to be the leader of the group by raising or lowering their hands to demonstrate soft and loud playing 
  • Play a beat and have the group or individual repeat it back to you. This is called "call and response" 
  • Allow the individual or group to play a solo for personal expression 
  • Have the participants come up with an animal, and then have them decide how that animal would play their drum. For example, a cheetah would play fast and loud and a mouse would play soft and fast

Podcast: Drumming Up Skills with Jorge Ochoa

Listen to this podcast with Jorge Ochoa, an OT a group drumming specialist, to learn more!  We discuss how group drumming can be an effective therapeutic tool for multiple populations. Jorge explains how he got started with his group drumming business, "Tambo Rhythms", and how OTs can get started with drumming, even with no musical experience. Jorge Ochoa, OTR is an OT and group drumming facilitator in San Antonio, TX. His company, TamboRhythms, is dedicated to promoting functional living through rhythmic expression throughout the lifespan. Jorge has facilitated groups at many locations including schools, learning centers, and community centers, and has even started training OTs in group drumming facilitation.