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Blondie drummer researches health benefits of playing drums

Published: Tue February 10, 2009  News Feed

Clem Burke launches initiative to find health positives from drumming

Blondie's Clem Burke

Blondie drummer Clem Burke (pictured) is teaming up with researchers from the University of Chichester and the University of Gloucestershire to launch a new research initiative which will investigate the potential health and mental benefits of playing drumming-based interactive computer games.

The research project, being launched at the University of Chichester, West Sussex, on February 13th, is a collaboration between the Clem Burke Drumming Project (CBDP) and Activision (manufacturers of Guitar Hero World Tour) and will explore what effects popular games can have on various conditions. Investigations will also centre on whether interactive video games can aid stress release and improve productivity in the workplace.

The Clem Burke Drumming Project is a unique collaboration between Clem Burke, the University of Chichester and University of Gloucestershire and was set up in July 2008. Burke is flying into the UK specifically for this event and will he will be performing live at the University of Chichester to launch this new research initiative.

Dr Marcus Smith, principal lecturer in exercise physiology, at the University of Chichester, explained: “We are interested in finding out how interactive video games, such as Guitar Hero, can improve the health and mental well-being of people. Despite a global recession, sales of interactive video games remain high. As researchers we are interested in understanding why such games are so appealing and how they may be used to investigate specific research questions. We are particularly interested in examining the effects of playing Guitar Hero on child and adult obesity, autism, stroke patients, disengaged communities, and health and mental well-being in the workplace.

“We are also very excited about investigating the potential benefits of introducing interactive video games into the workplace. Offices around the UK could be transformed into ‘rock venues’, resulting in stress release and fun for the staff and increased productivity for the business. We are also intrigued to monitor the number of individuals who progress from playing interactive drums kit controllers to full kits similar to those played by Clem.”

World leading brain imagery scientist, Professor Steve Williams from Kings College London, has been working closely with Dr Smith and added: “Patients with suboptimal brain function such as autism, dyspraxia or stroke may really benefit from this technology. Planning and learning these motor skills in such an entertaining manner may well enhance cognitive flexibility and facilitate recovery from an insult.”

Ian McClellan, senior brand manager from Activision, said: “We hope this collaboration will show the benefits of drumming, either on Guitar Hero’s drum kit controller or a full kit or, and prove a physiological route between the two. We fully expect some of the next generation of drummers to have graduated from Guitar Hero and hope this research project encourages more videogamers to progress to the real instruments.”

Dr Steve Draper, the co-founder of the CBDP and a principal lecturer in exercise physiology at the University of Gloucestershire, concluded: “Our research has shown that accomplished pop and rock drummers do expend a large amount of energy during practice and performance, the difficulty maybe in how quickly the necessary skills and co-ordination may be acquired to allow someone to work at this level. Drumming video games are particularly exciting as they may provide an enjoyable and effective means to acquire the complex motor skills required to play on any drum kit.”

Topper Headon

Topper Headon - kicking bad habits...

On a recent interview for the BBC Breakfast programme, Topper Headon, former drummer with The Clash, explained that drumming helped him to kick his heroin addiction.

As increasingly more reports seem to show how beneficial drumming can be, maybe you should start practicing the instrument, too!

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