Category: Drumming


Our 8-week percussion series, led by MedRhythms music therapy instructor Stian Berg Hansen, focused not only on the drumming itself, but also on using rhythm to engage listening, memory, and motor coordination.

During earlier class practice, Stian had the group use alternating drumming hands and clapping movements. This wasn’t always easy at the outset of our time together, especially when Stian also added in having us increase and decrease speed and volume over the weeks that followed. But we improved regularly over time! We also learned how to use boomwhacker instruments, which are colorful plastic tubes of varying lengths and tones of the music scale. Eventually, we divided our circle into three separate sections, with each group of five or eight players beating a different rhythm. The end result?? A pretty rhythmic, integrated sound!

We were able to provide this most recent free music experience through the support of a community grant from the national Parkinson’s Foundation and the generous use of space provided by the Danvers YMCA. From the alternating facial expressions of both focus and smiles, we feel the program was well received by the participants and their care partners!


Quoting information provided in a Michael J. Fox Foundation Foxfeed blog post titled “Ask the MD: Music as Medicine for the Mind”…

“In certain diseases, like Parkinson’s, the brain rhythm in the circuit controlling movement gets off track. …Playing music exercises the mind and body. It provides a route for social interaction. In drawing someone into its rhythm, it can calm a resting tremor, break a freezing spell and bring gait into a more normal pattern. Music can boost memory, lessen depression, and improve the volume and tone of speech.” (

Join our new MedRhythms 8-week neurologic percussion series beginning on Wednesday afternoons from 1-2 PM at the Danvers Community YMCA starting May 1st! Beat a combination of drums, smack a boomwacker, shake maracas…and SO much more! The series is limited to 30 people – take a chance on something new, motivating, beneficial, and fun. Register early by emailing to be part of this pilot opportunity  here in our area! 

Appreciation for three talented friends…

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

And so we want to share our gratitude about three very special people who have made it possible for Parkinson’s Fitness to share its mission throughout the North Shore communities and beyond. We think of these businesswomen as major foundation stones in our continuing program-building process.

Three years ago, as we recognized the importance of creating program visibility, we turned to Marblehead web designer Annie Clifford, founder of Clifford Web and Video Services ( Aware of Annie’s listening skills in helping clients shape the direction in which they want to present their information to the public, she was able to piece together all of our “we-want-to” visions into our first Parkinson’s Fitness web site. Annie not only played an important part in introducing us to a wider audience, she remains in an even more important role…she’s our friend! We welcome anyone considering Annie as their webmaster to contact us as references!

Recently, two new women – Kimberley Ballard and Jennifer Gonyea from Clarity Collaborative – have colorfully and creatively raised the visibility bar again by re-designing our web site to showcase our broadened definition of Parkinson’s “fitness”. Presenting motivating, ability-based physical exercise in a variety of locations will always remain our primary intention. Additionally, complementary forms of body movement, voice projection using music therapy, an incremental series of fine-motor and cognition-enhancing arts, and interactive socialization require their share of the visibility spotlight as well. So, a big public thank-you to Kimberley and Jennifer for all their recent efforts behind the scenes on our behalf!

Drumming…week two!

Wow! What a class we had with instructor Lauren Caso on February 2nd!

All of us played identical instruments at the same time…first the gankogui (double bell), then the axatse (gourd rattle) and finally the kagan (baby drum, although they’re not so small!) so that we are becoming more in unison as we play the various rhythms used for each instrument. We’re working on connecting all of them into an interlocking, cohesive sound.

And then it was up on our feet and learning initial African circle dance motions! Trying those steps to authentic music recorded “in the field” was an excellent balance exercise…we’re not saying it was easy, but there was a great combination of concentration and laughter! We can hardly wait to try putting it together again next week!

That old saying that good things come in small packages fits our new friend Lauren. She may be small in size, but her instructing talent and patience level is as big as her heart!


Drumming series off to a great start!

The first in our six-week therapeutic drumming series began on January 26th and the room provided for us at CareOne at Peabody vibrated with rhythm!

Instructor Lauren Caso was full of enthusiasm and a fun and patient leader as a combination of 11 men and women tried three very different kinds of African instruments from Lauren’s diverse percussion collection.

We frequently read that as we age, we should constantly try something new to keep all of our brain and body cells firing. We CERTAINLY had the serotonin and dopamine levels in our brains reaching new heights on Tuesday!

Marilyn demonstrated one particular rhythm to the Friday exercise class members in Danvers, and further explained that when you allow yourself to think over what we learned during drumming, the rhythm actually “comes back”…now whether it’s 100% correct is another whole question! But we’ll try it again at our next class on February 2nd!