Social-emotional learning through a drumming intervention — Jennifer StGeorge & Emily Freeman

Volume 12 (1) 2020 – Article (first published on 12 November 2018)

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Social-emotional learning through a drumming intervention

Jennifer StGeorge & Emily Freeman  


The growth of social and emotional competence is considered a developmental goal of childhood and adolescence. While early caregiving and family environment are key to children’s wellbeing and developmental trajectories, social-emotional learning (SEL) interventions may reduce young people’s vulnerability to internalising and externalising problem behaviours if family or environment factors present some risk. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of the SEL program DRUMBEAT (Discovering Relationships Using Music, Beliefs, Emotions, Attitudes and Thoughts), a 10-week school-based intervention. Students who took part in the DRUMBEAT program (N = 75, 64% male, 59% Primary School, 18% Indigenous) across six Australian schools, and their teachers, completed pre and post measures of Self-Esteem and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Linear mixed model analyses showed there were significant improvements in students’ self-esteem, and internalising and externalising behaviours, as reported by students and teachers. Drumming has the potential to draw young people into an educative environment where rhythm, collaboration and discussion can enhance understanding of intra- and interpersonal processes.


social behaviour, emotion regulation, intervention, school-children, adolescents, drumming


Jennifer StGeorge, Family Action Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.

Emily Freeman, School of Psychology, Faculty of Science, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.