Rhythm for life – towards better health and well-being

The world is more complicated than ever and life around us seems to move at an ever faster pace, statistics show that anxiety and depression have risen by a third in just over four years – it’s clear that we are facing a significant and growing problem. Discovering new ways to target these issues present great challenges, but also, opportunities. As technology continues to dominate our lives and change our behaviours, research shows there are actions we can take to tackle these issues, one of which is through drumming.

Something to consider

The roots of drumming are ancient, archaeologists have discovered evidence that people have used drums for millennia; numerous small cylindrical drums have been excavated in southern parts of Turkey and Iran dating from 3000 BC. Drumming was important then and it is now, think about your favourite song or musical composition, is there a drum beat or distinctly rhythmical element central to its structure? Some anthropologists believe that rhythms and sounds may have been a precursor to the languages we speak today and used as a form of communication.

Learning to drum and setting out on the musical journey of rhythm and pulse can be enjoyable and therapeutic, here are five reasons why you should come join the party…

1. Drum out stress and anxiety
Research shows that participating in group drumming activities boosts the body’s production of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones. Experiencing a group drumming session can be powerful and transformative, promoting feelings of being energised and focused, it’s hard to engage with other things like your smart phone. Research also shows that participants who had blood pressure checks before and after a one hour drumming session displayed a reversal in stress producing hormones, proving that this is a powerful and transformative way to manage stress and anxiety.

2. Maximise your brain function
Your brain loves it when you drum. Music is a powerful way to engage your brain in a full neurological workout; the visual, auditory and motor cortices work hard during a group drumming session. Drumming promotes synchronous brain activity, getting both sides of the brain working together whilst improving concentration, coordination and problem solving skills. The power of drumming is especially noticeable in people living with dementia and acquired brain injury. Therapeutic Instrumental Music Performance (TIMP) programmes show transformative results in stroke survivors and their rehabilitation, and music has been proven to be a powerful means of communication for those living with dementia.

3. Boost your immune system
There is growing evidence that drumming can be linked to a reduction in pro-inflammatory immune response in the body, helping to induce the opposite effect through increasing the positive anti-inflammatory defences your body needs to stay healthy. According to cancer specialist Dr Barry Bittman (who conducted extensive research in the fields of music and neurology), group drumming has the potential to increase cells associated with killing cancer and viruses. Research conducted at The University of Tokyo showed the number of white blood cells increased significantly, the slowing down and synchronisation of breathing during the sessions improved blood flow.

4. Feel more connected
With the constant quest for super speed broadband and the latest smart phone, do we still have the capacity to make real and meaningful connections to people and places? Drumming is a great way to feel connected to others without speaking or acting, but solely through the non-verbal pulsating rhythms created in a group. Meet new people, laugh, listen, reflect and be part of creating an incredible shared experience for yourself and those around you.

5. It’s fun!
Injecting fun into your life is a serious business! People who are deprived of fun and recreational experiences are more likely to commit crimes, be less productive and have low self-esteem. Drumming is one of the most fun and rewarding things to do – why not give it a try?

Starting in January 2018 we will be holding lots of free drumming workshops in Westminster Music Library, no experience necessary! Contact us to find out more: musiclibrary@westminster.gov.uk
020 7641 6200

Ruth
Westminster Music Library

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Never too young

You’re never too young to enjoy a good story, and at your local library children are welcome to join from birth. It’s absolutely free and for children there aren’t any fines for returning books late.

Did you know that all families with babies aged 0-12 months are eligible for a free Bookstart baby pack?  Each pack contains two books, a rhyme sheet and a booklet of tips and ideas for sharing stories with your child. Pop into your local library to pick yours up today.

If you’re interested in getting involved in your local reading community, check out the fun under-fives activities on offer at your local library.

And remember, we understand that children can be noisy (and sometimes messy!) so don’t worry too much about being quiet; we love to see young children enjoying our libraries and welcome their enthusiasm!

By taking out books and reading with your child every day you can help their physical, mental and emotional development as well as language and listening skills. Plus, you get to enjoy some fantastic stories!

“A love of reading is more important in academic achievement than a child’s social or economic background.” –Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ‘Reading for change’ 2001

Happy reading!

Harriet Skinner

Libraries Children’s Officer

Monday evening knitting at Marylebone Library

Marylebone Library’s knitting club was set up to introduce adults to the meditative art of knitting and to encourage seasoned knitters to share their skills with others. Knitting can bring about a state of mindfulness that many people find relaxing and beneficial to their mental health, learning a new skill can also build confidence and self-esteem.

We started an initial run of four weeks which extended to six weeks by popular demand and had a range of people attend with varying levels of knitting knowledge. Complete beginners were offered one-to-one individual guidance to encourage them to work at their own pace whilst others with a moderate level of knowledge were encouraged to expand their repertoire by learning new techniques and stitch patterns.

The group soon became familiar with one another which introduced a social aspect to the meetings and encouraged a further level of skill sharing. We hope the meetings were an enjoyable and educational event for all that participated and hope to continue in the new year with blocks of six sessions repeated throughout the year. We’re hoping to include crochet too.

Interested in taking part? Keep an eye on our events page, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Angel at Marylebone Library

Art book of the month, November 2017

The Illustrated London News

I hope that you will all forgive me for being a bit liberal in my usage of the word book here, as while The Illustrated London News is technically a periodical, when you’re faced with 281 volumes of bound copies it’s easy to forget that they aren’t technically a book.

The Illustrated London News first appeared on Saturday 14 May 1842, as the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine and ceased publication in 2003. It is an incredible resource for anyone looking to get a view for the past with contemporary images from the time mixed in with articles of the day. Anyone looking to get some insight into the topical issues of the day would be hard pressed to go any further than this.

It is is frequently used by academics as for their research and a volume from our collection is currently on display in the Migration Museum as part of their No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain  exhibition.

In addition to the bound volumes held at Westminster Reference Library, The Illustrated London News is also available online here for Westminster’s library members.  Not yet a member? You can join online here

Nick
Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

PS – Art book of the month for October and September 

Half term fun at Maida Vale Library

Maida Vale Library hosted a full programme of events for children during half term.

There has been an ongoing treasure hunt to find spooky Halloween characters hidden around the library.

Spooky!

On Monday we had two really well attended sessions for our popular rocket making session in the morning and again in the afternoon – more than 80 children and adults came along.

Rockets!

On Tuesday we hosted an Elmer Day event. A bit late I know (or early as they’ll be another on 26 May 2018), but better late than never! The children listened to some stories about the multi-coloured elephant, played a game, then coloured in pictures and elephant ears and made an Elmer model.

On Thursday we were making spooky puppets from felt in the morning and afternoon and again and we were joined by over 100 children and adults! Hopefully everyone had a great time and I was ably supported by volunteers Lisa and Khaleda, so a big thank you to them.

A spooky Dracula!

There was also time for sharing stories, so something for everyone.

Halloween stories!

Simon Williams
Maida Vale Library

PS – if you’re interested in volunteering with us, we have more information here

Pimlico Library celebrates Libraries Week

Pimlico Library celebrated Libraries Week yesterday, Thursday 12 October with the Worlds of Possibilities festival – a free series of artistic activities in public libraries held to celebrate the wide range of activities and opportunities available in libraries.

Pupils from two local schools experienced an afternoon of poetry and performance workshops; poet and playwright,  Tommy Sissons entertained two classes from Pimlico Academy and three classes from Pimlico Primary got to meet author, Smriti Prasadam-Halls.

Smriti Prasadam-Halls read from her book T-Veg, about a vegetarian dinosaur, to primary school pupils from Pimlico Primary. She also spoke about other stories she’s written and where she gets her ideas from.

Tommy Sissons read poems from his book Goodnight Son and hosted a Q&A session with secondary school pupils on writing and being a poet.

Both events were also attended by Libraries Minister, John Glen MP and Cllr Jacqui Wilkinson, Deputy Cabinet Member for Environment, Sports and Community.

Thank you to Smriti, Tommy, pupils and teachers from Pimlico Primary and Pimlico Academy for contributing to such a fantastic event!

Art Book of the Month, October 2017

The Vernon Gallery of British Art Volumes 1-4 London: g. Virtue, 1850  

Buried deep in the stacks of Westminster Reference Library we uncovered the four volume set of the Vernon Gallery of British Art.

This collection lists in delightful detail all of the 152 paintings donated by Robert Vernon on the 22 of December, 1847 to the National Gallery. Each work is shown in full detail with an accompanying description that helps to set the scene as to how the work was viewed at the time.

All of the images are preserved by a thin sheet of grease proof paper that ensures the fidelity is not lost.

The collection donated by Robert Vernon consisted of works by notable artists of his time, such as Turner and Constable. It provided a huge boost to the then newly established National Gallery. While the works have since been split up and some now reside in Tate Britain the value of the collection still remains.

Anyone is welcome to visit the Westminster Reference Library and staff are always happy to retrieve any books from our stacks. If you would like to see this set of books, please do visit us.

Nick
Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

PS – and if you’re interested to know what was Art Book of the Month last month 

The Life and Loves of a Victorian Clerk

The diary of Nathaniel Bryceson, 1846

Discovering Westminster: A walk through time

Lunch time walks through the area

LBHF Libraries

"More than a library..."

The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

Curious recipes and hidden histories from Westminster City Archives

Online Resources in London Public Libraries

A world of information at your fingertips

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