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Age From: 


Age To: 


Delivered To: 

  • Children/Students


  • Component 2 : Social and emotional learning for students


  • Social and emotional skills
  • Refugee adjustment/settlement
  • Belonging and Connectedness

Special Student Group: 

  • Culturally/Linguistically diverse
  • Lower socioeconomic/disadvantaged
  • Rural setting
  • Special needs (disability in learning, intellect, physical etc)


DRUMBEAT is primarily used by organisations and schools working with alienated or socially dislocated individuals. The age range extends from 10 years old through to adult. Most DRUMBEAT programs are run in upper primary and secondary schools.  

DRUMBEAT was originally designed to engage Aboriginal youth and the learning framework replicates the experiential model of traditional Aboriginal cultural learning. The DRUMBEAT program has also been utilised by schools and organisations across Australia working with young people with experiences as a refugee.

Delivery By: 

  • Primary teachers and staff
  • Allied health professionals
  • Other


The Holyoake DRUMBEAT program was designed to engage children and young people resistant to talk based approaches. The program uses hand drumming to foster improved levels of personal and social confidence and develop social skills. DRUMBEAT is a fun program that uses analogies and metaphor to raise awareness in participants of the factors that support healthy relationships and in so doing supports a reduction in the social isolation that is commonly experienced by alienated young people.



State/s Available: 

  • National


DRUMBEAT involves up to 10 participants in 10 x 1 hour sessions with specific themes including self-responsibility, values, emotional expression, identity, peer pressure, harmony and teamwork.  Through hand drumming, the program uses a framework of fun and experiential learning to draw participants’ attention to connections between their experiences in the drum circle, and their relationships in the wider community.

The DRUMBEAT program utilises 5 core elements to achieve its goals
1. Core Rhythms – Participants learn to play specific parts in harmony with each other leading to increased levels of focus and concentration as well as team work skills.
2. Rhythm Games – These promote fun and engagement and are often tied to analogies that prompt discussion on a social theme
3. Discussion – Opportunities to talk about the social themes of the program sessions from a personal perspective, increasing the relevance of the program to participant’s lives and leading to personal insight and personal growth.
4. Improvisation – Participants are encouraged to explore their own creativity and develop their own rhythms. This promotes self- efficacy and supports creative ways of problem solving.
5. Performance – This provides recognition of achievement, connection to community & demonstrates the potential of each individual

Program Structure / Methods of Delivery: 

The basic format for the DRUMBEAT program is 10 sessions over ten weeks. Each session is 1 hour in length. The program finishes with a public performance.

DRUMBEAT is designed for small groups – maximum of 12 participants

An extended version of the program meets the criteria of the State and Territory curriculum councils and involves up to 60 hours of study across 2 terms.


Staff training – currently $750 for 3 day PD

Costs to schools may include the purchase of a set of drums – although in cases of economic hardship these can be made from recycled materials for virtually no cost.

Program Specific Audience: 


No. of Sessions: 


Structured Sessions: 


Student Assessment Measures: 


Professional Learning: 

  • Professional Learning Available

Professional Learning Compulsory: 


Formal Parent/Carer Component Provided: 


Other Elements: 

The DRUMBEAT program is used across Australia – dates for training workshops can be obtained online by visiting


Evidence of Effectiveness

Evidence of Effectiveness Rating: 


Identified Theoretical Framework: 


Identified Theoretical Framework Description: 

DRUMBEAT draws on a Social Learning Theory to explore relationship issues with the social context recognised as a key influence on behaviour.  The program uses experiential group work involving action, movement and activity which form the core of the process using group drumming and opportunities for the facilitator to observe participants in the social setting of the small group. The reflection that arises through this process then draws on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approaches to enable participants to make the links between thoughts, actions and emotions.  In the DRUMBEAT program, discussions are drawn from analogies taken from the drum circle which promote introspection and self-awareness around the relationship themes of the session or the activities and actions displayed by the participants themselves.

Survey/Audit Tools Available: 



Faulkner, S. DRUMBEAT 2011.  In search of Belonging. Youth Studies Australia, Vol 30, (2), Pp9-14

Faulkner, S., Ivery, P., Wood, L., & Donavon, R. 2010. Holyoake’s DRUMBEAT Program: Music as a tool for social learning and improved educational outcomes. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, Vol 39. Pp 98-109

Faulkner, S., Wood, L., Ivery, P., & Donovan, R. (2012). It is not just music and rhythm … Evaluation of a drumming-based intervention to improve the social wellbeing of alienated youth. Children Australia, 37(1).

Featherstone, J. (2008). A formative evaluation of the therapeutic intervention DRUMBEAT with patients from the psychiatric ward at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital. Unpublished report for Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital, Perth, Western Australia. Retrieved 1st November 2011

Friedman, R.L., 2011. The Healing Power of the Drum. White Cliffs Media, Gilsum NH

Ivery, P., Wood, L., Rosenberg, M., & Donovan, R. 2009. An evaluation of a therapeutic intervention using music “DRUMBEAT” Discovering Relationships Using Music – Beliefs, Emotions, Attitudes & Thoughts with alienated youth. Perth, WA: Health Promotion Evaluation Unit, School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health in conjunction with School of Population Health, The University of Western




Simon Faulkner

About the Author(s): 

Simon Faulkner is a group worker with the Holyoake Institute in Western Australia – a specialist drug and alcohol treatment service. Simon worked for 15 years in the Wheatbelt region of WA with Aboriginal youth, Simon has qualifications in psychology and addiction studies through Edith Cowan University. Simon is the recipient of a Churchill fellowship and studies rhythm based interventions across North America in 2005

Contact Information: 

Program materials

Name: David Paddon

Address: PO Box 322, Victoria Park, 6979

Phone: 08 - 94164444

Fax: 08-94164443




Training and professional development

Name: Simon Faulkner

Address: PO Box 322, Victoria Park, 6979

Phone: 08 - 94164444

Fax: 08-94164443