Program Structure


45-60 minutes
Program length may vary, depending on time spent doing each activity.

Participants in the Program

Group Size

3-30 participants
Therapeutic drumming benefits groups of all sizes, with larger groups being more successful with a greater amount of facilitators. But for any size group it is always best to have two facilitators (Either both as co-leaders, or with one as the leader and the other as facilitator.)

Entrance Criteria

  1. All levels of functioning are encouraged to attend, even those who are in late stage dementia, and those who have little to no motor activity; excluding those who may be violent, vulgar, or who may otherwise endanger other participants.

Exit Criteria

  1. Resident demonstrates discomfort by verbal outbursts, agitation, or repeatedly leaves (or asks to leave) the group.
  2. Resident complains of or appears to be in pain, and rhythm activities seem to exacerbate the pain.

Staff Requirements

  1. Options:
    • One staff member serves as the leader (or primary facilitator), with two or more additional staff as facilitators, who model and monitor residents
    • Two staff members serve as co-leaders
  2. It is important for staff to keep in mind simple leadership techniques when working with residents who have dementia.

    Click here for Tips on Getting Attention and Keeping it! (PDF, 49KB, 1pg.)

  3. Always remember: The more facilitators, the better!


Physical Environment and Equipment Required

  1. Set up the room with chairs in a circle.
  2. Swivel stool for program leader.
  3. Have tapes / CD's with music and player, or have music ready.
  4. Review program methods.
  5. CD in player, instruments.

Sample of Rhythm Instruments for Group

  • bongo drums
  • conga drum
  • claves
  • hand drums
  • paddle drums
  • frame drums
  • djembe
  • mallets (pair)
  • maracas
  • rhythm sticks
  • shaker eggs
  • tambourine
  • tone blocks

Instruments can be ordered by catalog:

Forms to Assist in Care Planning