Like your science loud? Hartpury is about to stage a very special Christmas lecture

It could be the most thought-provoking gig of 2022, but if you can’t make Hartpury University’s inaugural Christmas lecture, you might just hear it anyway – it aims to put the art and benefits of drumming very much centre stage.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
In what promises to be a lecture with a difference, Hartpury University is about to launch the first in a series of Christmas lectures – showcasing the science and benefits to the human mind of playing the drums.

Hartpury University is about to stage its first ever public Christmas lecture, part musical gig, part science - and an event it hopes will mark the start of an annual series.

The lecture will showcase the findings of ground-breaking neuroscience research involving the university, which shed light on the benefits of drumming for people with autism spectrum disorder.

Professor Stephen Draper, academic dean at the Gloucestershire university, will lead the event by exploring - through music and in the form of a festive quiz - the story of the influential Clem Burke Drumming Project.

The project was co-founded in 2008 by legendary Blondie drummer Clem Burke, ranked by Rolling Stone magazine in its top 100 drummers of all time, as well as Professor Draper and Professor Marcus Smith from the University of Chichester.

Guest drummer and producer, DJ Stephani B, will perform at the lecture - with support from Gloucestershire-based music business Inspire Drums.

Professor Draper said: ‘We’re really looking forward to our first ever annual public Christmas lecture and can’t wait to bring a hugely important and influential piece of research to life in an entertaining and engaging way.

‘As an institution, we’re committed to sharing the research we do with our local community and want to show how research really makes a difference in practice. Who knows, an event like this may also inspire the next generation of students and researchers.’

The Clem Burke Drumming Project began as an attempt to examine the physiological demands of playing the drums ‘live’ during one-off (Glastonbury) and multiple gigs (world tours), and grew quickly into exploring the physical, mental and health benefits of drumming.

Professor Draper will discuss the formation of the project, showing how the team worked with rock and pop drummers along the way.

Notably, he’ll explain the neuroscience behind the act of learning to drum and the impact of drumming in autism spectrum disorder and other populations.

The purpose of the event is to engage with the local community and showcase some of the leading research being carried out at Hartpury University.

The research that formed part of the drumming project was submitted as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 process and recognised as ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’, placing Hartpury amongst a prestigious group of well-established institutions.

The REF is a UK-wide assessment of the quality of research in universities undertaken by expert review panels and is undertaken on behalf of Government by the funding councils for higher education.

Members of the public can attend the event for free, but will need to register via Eventbrite. Expect mulled wine, mince pies and plenty of drumming, including opportunities to have a go yourself.

Guests are asked to donate to the Heart Heroes ‘I Can Drum’ initiative that brings physical activity through drumming to children with congenital heart conditions.

Drumming into Christmas: Science of Drumming and Wellbeing will take place on Thursday 15 December at 7pm (6.30pm arrival).

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