Holyoake’s DRUMBEAT program is the first of its kind: a structured learning program using the medium of music and hand drumming to engage people, lift their self-confidence and teach a range of life-skills. This program is evidence-based and outcome-oriented with proven social and emotional learning benefits.

Holyoake has trained over 9,000 DRUMBEAT Facilitators around the world and an estimated 50,000 people have participated in and experienced the benefits of the program. Over the flexible 10-week program participants practice social skills such as problem-solving, active listening, empathy and tolerance by making music. Their learning is extended through discussion that promotes self-reflection and awareness on how their thoughts, feelings and actions impact their relationships with others.

DRUMBEAT has trained teachers across schools in Polk County, with hundreds of students participating in the DRUMBEAT program. These schools were looking to engage their students and create leaders within the classroom. Many students had demonstrated behavioral concerns, a low school attendance rate, and were struggling to achieve academically and engage socially. This provided the ideal setting for DRUMBEAT to start a rhythm revolution in Polk County — creating a fun and energetic environment in which students could take control of their own behaviour while at the same time improving their social and emotional learning.

Polk County schools that participated in DRUMBEAT have seen drastic improvements in their classrooms — reporting a 50% decrease in behavioral incidents and a 30% increase in school attendance. Both teachers and students agree that the program is successful at creating positive change for those involved

“I have seen students who had some behavioral concerns and they’re excited to come to DRUMBEAT, but they also know that we call this our leadership class. We’re developing leadership skills and we’re not focusing on it negatively; we’re focusing on the positives and how leadership can improve their life.”

~Beth Nave, Purcell Elementary Principal

“I think it’s a program that every student can benefit from. We’ve seen big changes in behavior with the participants… and they love it. It’s something I’m very proud of and I think every school should give DRUMBEAT a try — they’ll definitely see the benefits.”

~Willie Morris, Chain of Lakes Elementary

Title One Funding

In the US, there is a federal funding source called Title One. From the Florida Department of Education website:

“Title I provides local educational agencies (LEA) resources that help children gain a high-quality education and the skills to master the Florida Standards. Title I provides additional resources to schools with economically disadvantaged students. These resources provide additional teachers, professional development, extra time for teaching, parent involvement activities, and other activities designed to raise student achievement.”

Two models are used in Title I schools to provide these services: school-wide reform, and targeted assistance. Schoolwide reform models provide all students with access to services. Targeted assistance models provide services to select students in Title I schools.

To attain funding for a private DRUMBEAT training using Title One funds in Polk County Public Schools, the Fine Arts supervisor reached out to the Title One director to see if she would be open to a discussion about funding the training through Title One. She was, and so we created a position paper explaining how the DRUMBEAT program would use the Targeted Assistance model of Title One funding to help students gain a higher-quality education and the skills to master the Florida Standards.


Language we used to sell the program at the district level:

Activity: Training of 20 school-based staff to facilitate DRUMBEAT, a therapeutic drum protocol that reduces risk factors while increasing protective factors.

SMART Goal: Because we want to increase social-emotional learning skills in students, we will train 20 school-based staff to facilitate at least one DRUMBEAT program per semester on campus

Research Evidence: Recent developments in neurological research note the beneficial impact of rhythmic interventions on primal brain systems associated with anxiety and emotional control.

Learning: Each DRUMBEAT session focuses on different relationship themes such as identity and social responsibility, values, dealing with emotions, peer pressure, harmony, communication and teamwork. Training attendees will learn how to use rhythm to help students develop greater resilience and emotional control.

Implementing: Each training attendee will conduct at least one DRUMBEAT therapeutic drum program on their campus per semester. Student candidates for DRUMBEAT will be identified by each school site. Programs will take place during the school day – and students have permission to miss academic class time in order to participate. Group sizes are limited to 10 students, either all-male or all-female or an equal mix of both genders. Each training attendee will also identify a co-facilitator on campus to assist at each session.

Evaluating: DRUMBEAT programs will be evaluated using a mood state inventory at the start of the program, at the mid-point, and at the end of the program, as well as feedback from parents and teachers regarding student’s progress in social-emotional learning categories. Students also complete journal entries on how they feel they are dealing with challenges both at home and at school.

A key selling point was the opportunity to provide a short, interactive DRUMBEAT experience for 300 students, parents and Title One staff members at a Saturday event called Parent University. In May 2016, about a month before the end of the school year, the Title One staff holds a Parent University with vendors and free food and classes helping parents discover what educational activities are available to their children during the summer. I brought in 70 drums and 230 pieces of hand percussion, and jumped on stage to play the Foundation Game, with police officers from the audience serving as our foundation. As the entire room played the double heartbeat in unison, I talked about how the officers provide a strong foundation for our communities so we can be safe, and how the Title One department provided this event for our families so our students can be their best. Then I encouraged the families to explore beyond their heartbeat, and the officers promised to be the foundation on which we could build. And the next 10 minutes was a rocking rhythm jam, with folks up dancing in the aisles, and families playing and smiling and connecting in rhythm as the officers served as our heartbeat. It was beautiful – and Title One was so excited with the way the drumming connected the families there that they agreed DRUMBEAT would be a valuable tool for connecting in schools

It is important that PCPS used Title One funding, for several reasons:

a) Not every school district has a Fine Arts supervisor to champion DRUMBEAT

b) Most school districts in the U.S. have Title One departments, and those departments usually have access to federal funds

c) PCPS is a large district; the fact that they have invested in DRUMBEAT for a single training, and after seeing the results are choosing to invest twice as much the following year, speaks very highly of the program

d) The precedent has now been set (by PCPS) that it is acceptable to use Title One funding to purchase a DRUMBEAT training; furthermore, schools have also been able to purchase drums to run their programs using Title One funds

Title II Funding

It is worth noting that there is also a federal funding source called Title Two Funding. This funding is exists for the following: “to help teachers provide students with the opportunity to meet the challenging state and local student academic achievement standards”

As a result, Title Two funding provides the opportunity for professional development for teachers and principals in order to increase the number of highly qualified professionals within schools.

It then stands to reason that districts could also access this funding stream to obtain DRUMBEAT trainings.  To be eligible for funds, a need assessment for professional development will be identified. The needs assessment shall be conducted with the involvement of teachers, including teachers participating in programs under part A of Title I.

More information on both streams of funding can be found below, along with contact details for USA DRUMBEAT Ambassador Jessica Fredricks.