#160 - Living in Rhythm with Jorge Ochoa, OTR/L, from TamboRhythms

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC July 07, 2021

Living in Rhythm with Jorge Ochoa, OTR/L, from TamboRhythms

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Living in Rhythm with Jorge Ochoa, OTR/L, from TamboRhythms

What does it mean to live life in rhythm? Rhythm is something that is all around us, it’s in the seasons of the year, the heartbeats of our bodies, the modulations of our speech, it’s even in our breath. 

In today’s episode, we get together with Jorge Ochoa to talk about his work as an Occupational Therapist and musician and how he has been able to combine them by establishing TamboRhythms. 

In our conversation, Jorge recounts the many ways that drumming can benefit young children, from having a positive effect on one's mood to teaching social-emotional skills like sharing, impulse control, and improving attention span. He also shares deeply affecting stories of children with special needs responding to the drumming practice in surprising and beautiful ways. 

Later, Jorge talks about the connective power of drumming and how it can help adults in a myriad of ways, from easing symptoms of depression and anxiety to supporting the emotional health of cancer patients. We learned so much from having Jorge on the show, and we even had a mini jam session! For all this and more, join us today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Jorge explains his work as both an Occupational Therapist and drummer.
  • The research-based program, HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming, and its ability to decrease stress at the DNA level and improve mood states.
  • How TamboRhythms bridges the gap between Occupational Therapy and drumming.
  • Jorge shares a story about a student who had a traumatic brain injury and how he used drumming as an aid to soothe her.
  • Another story about how, through an inclusive drum practice, a child with autism exhibited very encouraging new behavior.
  • How working with rhythm is an excellent way to teach social-emotional skills.
  • How rhythm can help facilitate memory.
  • Jorge talks about how he has adapted his work to be virtual due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • How Jorge’s work with drumming was able to help calm and soothe a friend who was going through cancer treatments.
  • The ways drumming can benefit adults, including those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
  • How Jorge’s class focuses on connection, rather than pressure to perform.
  • How drumming has helped Jorge in his life as a grounding experience.
  • Jorge does a mini jam session with our hosts that you can join in on!


“I also went to a research-based training program called HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming. The research on it showed a boost to the immune system, decreased stress at the DNA level, as well as improved mood states.” —@TamboRhythms [07:45]

“We live life in rhythm. Everything we do is a rhythm. The seasons of the year, the hours of the day, how we breathe, how we talk, how we walk, our heart.” —@TamboRhythms [15:06]

“Rhythm can be a great way to work on social-emotional skills with kids. When I say that, I mean everything from attention span, impulse, self-control, taking turns, self-confidence, stress management, being able to lead your peers, teamwork, group cohesion.” —@TamboRhythms [15:29]

“I would have to say, for me, [drumming] is a grounding experience. It helps to put me in the present time. I'm not thinking about the past. I'm not thinking about the future.” —@TamboRhythms[30:26]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:


TamboRhythms on Twitter

TamboRhythms on Youtube

TamboRhythms on Facebook

TamboRhythms on Instagram

'60 BPM Relaxing Conga Drumming Video'


All Things Sensory on Instagram

All Things Sensory on Facebook


Full Show Transcript

[00:00:02] RH: Hey there. I'm Rachel. 


[00:00:03] JH:I'm Jessica, and this is All Things Sensory by Harkla. Together, we're on a mission to help children, families, therapists, and educators live happy, healthy lives.


[00:00:12] RH: We dive into all things sensory, special needs, occupational therapy, parenting, self-care, and so much more. In each episode, we share raw, honest, fun ideas and strategies for everyone to implement into daily life.


[00:00:25] JH: Thank you so much for joining us.




[00:00:32] RH: Hey, friends. Welcome back to another fantastic interview. You are listening to All Things Sensory by Harkla, with Rachel and Jessica. 


[00:00:40] JH:This is Episode 160, getting closer to 200. But we are talking to Jorge today, and I don't want to spoil anything for you. But you are going to be invited to join in on a jam session during this episode, so be ready. 


[00:00:58] RH: We hope that you will soak it all in and take advantage of the resources that he has to offer. You just really, I don't know, just feel this episode. There's a lot of passion and emotion in this episode. 


[00:01:13] JH:It's a good one. You're going to like it, so let's meet Jorge. 




[00:01:17] RH:Hello, Jorge. How are you today?


[00:01:19] JO: I'm doing well. I’m doing well. Thank you for having me. 


[00:01:22] RH:Yeah. We're excited to chat with you and what you do because what you do is really cool. So we're excited to share that with our listeners today. But before we dive into the nitty gritty, we do have five secret questions to put you on the spot this morning or this afternoon I guess it is. Yeah, we want everyone to know your deepest darkest secrets. 


[00:01:46] JO: Okay. 


[00:01:48] RH: He’s really nervous. It’s okay. No pressure. So, first one, who's your favorite artist?


[00:01:57] JO: Because I'm a drummer, so my favorite artist would have to be between Neil Peart of Rush and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater.


[00:02:06] RH: There we go. Okay. What book or books are you currently reading?


[00:02:12] JO: I'm currently reading a book. It’s funny. It's calledLife Sucks.


[00:02:20] JH:All right. 


[00:02:23 JO: I've just started reading it. It's a small short book and it's basically starting to talk about basically what has happened to people in their lives, whether it came about by accident or they did things in their life that caused their life to suck. But I haven't quite gotten to the good parts yet. Right now, I'm just reading stories because it's supposed to be basically how, at the end, the way I understand the book, it's at the end supposed to be how they were able to triumph with the help of God.


[00:02:57] RH:Cool. Wow. Well, you have to let us know how it is. 


[00:03:01] JO: Right now, I’m just reading all the sad parts of it mostly. It's like story after story after story of why these people's like suck, and then it’s supposed to get better [inaudible 00:03:12].


[00:03:15] RH: All right, next question. Would you rather spin or swing for the rest of your life?


[00:03:21] JO: Swing. [inaudible 00:03:23]. Yeah.


[00:03:27] RH: All right. What is one staple must have in your evening routine? 


[00:03:34] JO: Tabasco sauce. 


[00:03:36] RH: Really? Okay, there’s no hesitation. 


[00:03:41] JH:Every night.


[00:03:43] JO: Almost everything that’s cooked, Tabasco sauce. 


[00:03:45] JH:Okay. 


[00:03:46] RH: I love it. So good. All right, last –


[00:03:49] JO: [inaudible 00:03:49] about the Tabasco sauce and or pink Himalayan sea salt or sea salt that you can grind.


[00:03:59] JH:I agree with that, for sure. I will salt everything. 


[00:04:04] RH: Okay, last one. What is your sensory quirk?


[00:04:08] JO: My sensory quirk. My issue would have to be the most I think I'm probably going to be [inaudible 00:04:16] most of aversive to auditory issues. That tends to get to me the most. Whenever these fire alarms go off here at school, I just – This is – yeah. I will have to say that – 


[00:04:31] RH: You want to cover your ears. 


[00:04:32] JO: Would probably have been my best. Yeah, that's my most aversive type of input.


[00:04:37] RH: Gotcha. 


[00:04:38] JH:That's fair.


[00:04:41] RH: Okay. Well, now that everyone knows your deepest, darkest secrets, can you share with our listeners who you are, what you do, and why you do it?


[00:04:51] JO: Oh, boy. So I think I have to explain kind of like both my jobs because this is how it started. I am a full-time school-based doctor therapist. I've been a therapist since 2001. I live in San Antonio, Texas, and I'm also a drummer/percussionist. I originally am a drum set player, so when I started that back in 1989. I was 19, so I guess I'm dating myself. I was 19. I became an occupational therapist in 2001. My first job was in a different school district that I'm in right now. I was there for nine years. 


Around 2007, sometime, it would take one year. That would take – 2007 I was on the Internet looking up just information on drumming, just to see what was out there. I wasn't looking for anything specific, just one of those things. You just surf the web. What's up? What's new with drumming? What's going on? Then I came across the world of hand drumming and drum circles. The more I looked into it and I saw what was going on, I really liked the idea that you could get people together who were not musicians, and that they were able to connect in rhythm and relieve stress, and they're having a good time. I was like, “This is so cool.”


I really did not have the time, nor the desire to be in a band because I started out and I really am a rock player. I'm a drum set rock player really. That's how I started out playing. As I searched more about this hand drumming deal, I came across a program that was called The Rhythmic Arts Project, and it's specifically geared towards those that have special needs. So I look at it and I was like, “This is so cool. I really, really like this.” It’s just one of those things where like – Well, two things with me. I like to think outside of a box, which, of course, OTs, they usually do. We like to think outside the box, and I get bored easily. So I was like, “This is something new. This is something I want to try.” 


I went to my director and I asked her if she would buy me The Rhythmic Arts Project, the curriculum, and the drums, and the DVD. So I took that and I started going to the special ed rooms, classrooms every week. Then I started to facilitate whole sessions with the students. So I was doing that for a while, trying to get to know how to do it and so on and so forth. I would say in October, November of 2008, I also went to a training program called – It’s research-based and it's called HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming. The research on it showed a boost to the immune system, decreased stress at the DNA level, as well as improved mood states. 


Of course, being an OT, I like science. We like science, what's going on out there, what's actually occurring in the body, and so forth. So then I got trained in that to facilitate it. That was in October, November of 2008. Then in December 23rd of 2008 is when I officially started TamboRhythms as a side business, and I have been doing TamboRhythms since then. As an occupational therapist, I will honestly have to say it is the most rewarding and most functional thing I have ever seen or done. 


[00:08:40] RH: Wow. That's fantastic. I know. I love it. You're going to have to do a demonstration for us. Right here on the table, right?


[00:08:50] JO: Right. Okay. So I work with not just those with special needs but I also work with the community as well. To be honest with you, at first, I didn't quite know how to bridge the concept of music and drumming with OT. Even to this day, some people may call it, “Oh, we're doing music therapy, “ or, “You’re a music therapist.” I go, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I'm an occupational therapist who uses drumming as an intervention or I do therapeutic drumming. But I do not do music therapy. I stay in my lane.” What I did is that I actually became more confident and more sure of myself. More sure in that music is a valid tool to use within OT. 


I basically took the OT practice framework, I opened it up, I read through it, and I was like, “Okay, where can OT fit in this?” I was beginning to find – I mean, it just was all over the place and starting from occupation, the drumming, especially group drumming for the occupations of rest and sleep. Right there, I mean, the foundation, the core of our field, I was able to see, “Wait a minute. Drumming, for sure, can fit into that.”


I just happened to be, and I use the word blessed, because the fact that I'm a musician who became an OT. Then I went back to my music. Then I was finally able to bridge that too. It’s been amazing. This past year, not so much because of the pandemic, of course. This is the way it is, but things will begin to open up again. I'm beginning to do more in-person stuff. Of course, now that we have the Zoom, which will probably be here to stay, more and more virtual things are happening now. I’ve trained other OT students, as well as I'm training an OT right now who lives in New York, and I live in San Antonio. I'm training her. 


As a matter of fact, this evening, we're doing our second session, and I'm showing her how – She already bought all the drums that she wanted. She bought everything. I helped her buy everything. She has it. I'm training her how to facilitate and do all this.  That was one of my goals was to make this a more accepted, more sought after intervention that other OTs can use, and I stress the fact that they do not have to be a musician to do what I do. You just have to have a basic sense of timing. If you have a basic sense of timing, then you can do what I do. 


[00:11:43] RH: So then have you incorporated this into your work in the schools as well?


[00:11:51] JO: Yes. Actually, it's just one of those tools that I kind of grabbed. Well, I keep drums in the back of my car, number one. I keep it both as a tool to be used as needed when I'm here at school, and I'll give you an example. A few years ago, I had a student that had a traumatic brain injury. When I walked into the room, she was crying and she did not speak. They did not know what was wrong with her and they were not sure if it was she had a bad night, couldn't sleep, she was sick, or medication. They just didn't know, but she was just crying, crying, and crying. Sitting on the floor and just rocking back and forth and just crying. 


I just said, “Okay, let me try this,” because no one knew what was wrong. So I went and got a drum, one of my drums. Then I sat next to her on the floor and I just started playing a heartbeat sound. I'm playing that, and she calmed herself down, and she went to sleep. 


[00:13:00] RH: Wow. 


[00:13:02] JO: Yeah. Some things happen, and I don't even look for that. I mean, I was in another, a different classroom. I went in there and I played with the class. This particular student with autism was not a student on my caseload, but I included the whole class, even those with that or were not getting OT. I don't exclude kids. I include all of them. After the session, the student with autism came up and he hugged me. Then the teacher just looked at me in awe, and she was like, “Jorge, you don't know what just occurred.” I said, “What?” She said, “He doesn't like men, he is standoffish towards men.” He was a young man with autism. He came to me and he initiated the hug after drumming. I was like those are the kind of stories. It’s like there's just – I mean, I can't beat that. I mean, that's just awesome. So that's why. 


There’s more and more I can talk about. I mean, just so many awesome things have occurred with the drumming. I don't even – Like I said, I look for some things. I don't. They just occur. Like I said, I do have them in my car, and sometimes I am called upon to go and drum with the class just for the classes to – Kids just to be engaged. Kids just to de-stress, have fun, and so forth. The majority of the time, I do have the flexibility to use the drums really. Again, I’m blessed because all my directors have been extremely supportive of what I do, and I can basically drum wherever and whenever I want. 


[00:14:40] RH: That’s so nice. 


[00:14:42] JO: That works out. I mean, it's been great here at work. Then when it comes to actual business, the TamboRhythms business, that usually happens either in the evenings or on the weekends.


[00:14:52] JH:Okay. Cool.


[00:14:54] RH: Let's talk a little bit about the benefits of rhythm for kids. 


[00:14:58] JO: Okay. Well, I think we would have to go back to read the basics of rhythm for everyone. We live life in rhythm. Everything we do is a rhythm. The seasons of the year, the hours of the day, how we breathe, how we talk, how we walk, our heart, I mean, everything we do. So it's just one of those things. It's all around us. It’s part of us. But we really don't think about it as much because we just live, and sometimes we really just don't think about that. But rhythm can be – Especially what I have seen is that rhythm is an excellent way, and that's one of my focuses right now. It's a great way to work on social-emotional skills with kids. 


When I say that, I mean everything from attention span, impulse, self-control, taking turns, self-confidence, stress management, being able to lead your peers, teamwork, group cohesion. All of those skills are addressed when I do a session, and the best thing about it is that those kids don't need to know that I'm addressing those skills because all they need to be concerned about is the occupation of play. But I know what I'm looking for and I know why I'm doing it. I'll give you an example. Not so much right now because right now I don't like to share instruments between children right now because of this situation with the COVID. But like if I have a group of kids, I would – Even if I have enough drums, which I do have a lot of drums – Somebody asked me to come the other day, and I can't even. I have a mixture of drums and percussion, and it's just a lot of stuff.


What I try to do with my groups is that I will give – If it’s not too big of a group  but a nice like one classroom, I will try to give half the kids drums and half the kids shakers, and they have to play what I give them. There's no sharing. You get what you get. You don’t forfeit. 


[00:17:05] RH: Exactly. 


[00:17:09] JO: I promise, you will get to play the other instrument. Of course, all the kids want a drum. But they have to wait, which is going to be being able to follow directions, which is control their impulses. So then halfway during the session, then I'll say, “Excellent job, my friends. Now, it's time to switch.” Then they switch. 


[00:17:32] JH:I love that. 


[00:17:32] JO: Even if they love drums, they don't all get drums. But right now, because of what we're dealing with, the sooner we can switch. Whatever you're playing, that's what you have to play right now.




[00:17:42] RH: We just want to take a minute and talk to you about our company, Harkla. Our mission at Harkla is to help those with special needs live happy, healthy lives. Not only do we accomplish this through the podcast but we also have therapy products, easy-to-follow digital courses, and the Harkla Sensory Club to try to bring holistic care to you and your family. 


[00:18:00] JH:Listeners of the All Things Sensory podcast get 10% off their first purchase at Harkla with the discount code SENSORY. We'd recommend checking out some of our bestsellers like the Compression Sensory Swing, weighted blankets, or our course on sensory diets. 


[00:18:16] RH: Here's the best part. 1% of each sale gets donated to the University of Washington Autism Center to support autism research and fund scholarships to families in need to receive in clinic therapy for their child. 


[00:18:28] JH:Learn more about Harkla and all we have to offer at harkla.co. That’s H-A-R-K-L-A.co, and don't forget to use the discount code SENSORY to get 10% off your first purchase. That's S-E-N-S-O-R-Y for 10% off. 


[00:18:49] RH: And the best part is all Harkla orders come with a lifetime guarantee and free shipping. 


[00:18:56] JH:You really can’t beat that. 


[00:18:57] RH: No.


[00:18:58] JH:You can’t. Okay, let's get back to the show.




[00:19:01] JO: Social-emotional skills with kids with or without special needs. That's really what I – I enjoy a lot. One of my favorite things working with the young kids is, and I mean more like four or five-year-olds, is just seeing them. When you go into a classroom, you may see all these kids going, “Ah.” They're all over the place or whatever. As an example, if we're playing, I lead on the main beat and then I tell them play along and they play with me. So I'm playing something like this. Then when I go four, three, two, one, stop, two, three, four, one, two, back to the groove. I love it because when I say 4, 3, 2, 1, stop, after the second or third time when I go stop, all these four and five-year-olds stop. 


[00:19:54] JH:They get it.


[00:19:55] JO: They get it. Then I go one, two, back to the groove. Then they all come right back into the beat. 


[00:20:00] RH:That’s amazing. 


[00:20:01] JO:That is still my favorite part to this day. 


[00:20:05] RH:I know. I'm just like picturing it in my head and I'm like, “That would be so fun.”


[00:20:11] JO: Yes. I've had a parent in one of my classes that I've taught. I've taught at the adult and community education in the district that I live in, and one of my very supportive parents years ago, their daughter with autism, she gravitated towards the drums. I really loved what they did because after the class was over, after the end of the six weeks, they continued with the drumming. The parents said that their daughter learned how to count and the names of the US presidents with a drum.


[00:20:43] RH: Wow, that’s amazing. 


[00:20:49] JH: Yeah. That puts into my mind the idea of rhythm and how it does help facilitate memory.


[00:20:58] JO: Yeah, it does. Because especially when we do something like what we call in response, and that is where you play what I play. I’ll play first. Then when I do this thing, you play back. It’s a way to ingrain whatever concept you want because when I do my classes, I teach the syllables of their name, the syllables of colors, as well as the size of the shape using, “Okay, let's count.” Then we play it out through rhythm to it. Yeah. They get it.


[00:21:40] JH: Well, yeah. You think about a song that gets stuck in your head. It’s that same idea. It just gets – It’s like stuck there. 


[00:21:48] RH: So if anyone is listening and they want to do some drumming or get started in this rhythm, do they need a drum? What do they need to start? Do they need a table? Do they need their lap? Like how would you get someone started working on these rhythms? 


[00:22:04] JO: Well, like right now, I do a virtual event. I encourage those that are going to play that it's okay if you don't have a drum. Use any household or homemade item. So you can have a container, a box, a bucket, whatever you have, even two pencils. You can play on your body if you want to. So you don't necessarily – Especially doing it the way that we're doing it now, they don't have to have anything that they want to spend their money on. But if they do want a drum, the drum that I like to use with kids, one of the drums that I think are great for kids, bongo drums. Those are two drums that are small, and they're connected in the middle to each other. I really like those drums because those drums are great for crossing midline.


[00:22:59] RH: Yes. 


[00:23:00] JH:Okay, yes. Look how excited I got that I'm like, “Oh, yes.”


[00:23:06] JO: Easier when it comes to bilateral hand skills as well. So I really, really like – Those are the drums like if a parent were to ask me, “What drums should I get my child or what drum do you think would be cool,” I would say bongo, for sure. I would be even more specific and say get synthetic bongos because they can be wiped down with a disinfectant wipe. If you get the traditional bongos that have a wood body and animal skin, you really can't work those down because you're going to mess it up. Then synthetic ones are not as sensitive when it comes to temperature and humidity.


[00:23:54] RH: Especially down in Texas I bet. You have to worry about that a lot.


[00:23:58] JO: Yeah. If you have an animal skin drum, especially if it's not un-tuned, if the skin is tight, the head, the skin of the drum is tight, and you have it in your car, and when the temperature gets in your car, it can split your skin of the drum. That's how hot it is. But, I mean, most – I do have some drums that do have the wood and have the goat’s skin and so forth, but I really don't use those a lot. Especially now, I don't use anything that has skin on it that others play. Now, I might play because I'm the only one that’s touched that drum and nobody else does. But the others are all synthetic. So then when we're done, I just get my wipes, and we just start wiping everything now.


[00:24:42] RH: I'm curious what kind of a session with TamboRhythms, what that looks like.


[00:24:47] JO: Okay. So, I actually – One of the things that I can give to you and to the audience is that if they go to their TamboRythms channel on YouTube, there is a free 15-minute video that you can play along to. You can also play with you and your client or you and your child. We go through 15 minutes of this social-emotional learning skills, where I address things like start and stop. We address taking turns, like only the shakers play, only the drums play. We all also can address, okay, then only the girls play, only the boys play, as well as self-regulatory skills like playing soft and playing loud, playing slow and playing fast.


[00:25:39] RH: There are so many ways that you can incorporate OT, and it's amazing.


[00:25:43] JO: Exactly.


[00:25:44] RH: Oh, my goodness. The more that we're talking, the more I'm like, “Oh, my gosh.” 


[00:25:48] JH:All the different things that you can do.


[00:25:49] RH: So many [inaudible 00:25:50].


[00:25:51] JO: The thing that I try to also encourage, this is not just for kids. No, because we can – We haven't even talked about what I've done with adults yet. We only talked about – 


[00:26:02] RH: Fill us in. Yeah, fill us in. We’ve got a little bit of time left.


[00:26:08] JO: I want to be able to [inaudible 00:26:10]. So I have a friend of mine and she won’t mind me saying this because she's cool with it. She actually was going through cancer treatments, and she said that, “Going through cancer treatments and the drumming soothes, calms, and energizes me. I feel great.” She said it was a very important part of her healing, of her treatment. On a personal note, I live with depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. I've done some work with bipolar and depression support group here at [inaudible 00:26:50] and I've been told. I really enjoyed mixing drumming together with shakers. Even if many of us were not experienced, it helped me to take my mind off of my anxiety and obsessive thinking. It was fun. Yeah. 


This is something that is therapeutic for people. I mean, you can be any age. The good thing about it is really several things. Number one, you don't need to be a musician, number one. Number two, it is not a drum lesson class. Number three, or it's not a performance-based class. You don't have to go there. I mean, I've had people share with me they feel connected with others. They feel less alone because you're in a group and you don't feel so – Especially this past year when we've all had to be away from each other. I've had someone told me how they didn't feel so alone. Now, they feel there's a connection that they had during the session. 


One lady, she said that she lost her husband, and the drumming actually helped her. Because one of the things that I do at the end of the drumming session and I mean more with the community type of filming, and I do that once a month, and it's for free. It’s awesome because it's free for them, but I get paid. It's like I get paid for my hobby. I mean, what better? I mean, really it’s just great. It’s awesome. Again, I’m blessed. I’m blessed. At the end, I always encourage folks. I try to bring it all together, what we have done, the fun, and everything. I say, “Okay. So what is it that you think you need to do in your life in order to get your life in rhythm?” So I say, “What are those things that you need to add to your life or perhaps take away from your life in order for you to live in rhythm?” That's kind of like my hashtag tagline, live in rhythm. If you do #liveinrhythm or #otdrummer, I’ll probably come up with those. 


I always try to encourage that. Of course, to develop a healthy lifestyle of some type, what is it that you need to add or take away in order for you to live in rhythm? Of course, at the same time that I'm sharing this, I'm preaching to myself. Because as someone that lives with more than one mental illness, I also have to try to control and deal with how I think.


[00:29:24] RH: Well, isn't it interesting that what we're called to as a career or a profession is typically what benefits us the most? I know that –


[00:29:34] JO: [inaudible 00:29:34]. 


[00:29:36] RH: Right? But it's funny how it –


[00:29:38] JO: [inaudible 00:29:38]. 


[00:29:39] RH: But it came up in your life, and you didn't realize that you needed it. But then when the more that you're getting into it, you're like, “Oh, my gosh. This is what I need.”


[00:29:49] JO: Right. I didn't even realize that. Recently, to be honest with you, I never thought of – I always – With me, it was always about, “Okay, how can the drumming help others? What is it? How can – What I can do for others for the drumming.” Until I had an interview not too long ago with another therapist, and she basically – Well, she just flat out asked me, “Okay, we talk about all this stuff that's happened to others and what you do with them. But how has drumming helped you?” Nobody has ever asked me that, and I've never really had to put that into words. 


I would have to say, like, for me, it's a grounding experience. It helps to put me in the present time. I'm not thinking about the past. I'm not thinking about the future. Of course, as you're jamming away and I'm playing, endorphins, they're being released after a while. So you're good and you feel calm and everything. I basically say probably I would have to say that my brain is probably most at rest when I'm playing drums.


[00:30:58] RH: Well, I need a little demonstration. I still need you to just play on the table a little bit here for me. Give me a demo. Let's just hear it. 


[00:31:10] JO: Okay. This is what I'll do then. What I will do is I will start a rhythm, and then I want you both to come in and start playing. You do not have to play what I play, okay. But the only thing is that we just listen to each other play, and we just have a good time. Then we will see where it takes us.


[00:31:31] RH: Okay. 


[00:31:32] JH:Oh, no. 


[00:31:33] RH: I’m so excited. This is what I've been waiting for.


[00:31:37] JO: When I work with kids, I usually tell them when to come in. But I'm going to – What I want you to do is I want you, and you're free to close your eyes if you want. But I want you to feel the rhythm and do not overthink it, and just let yourself go when you’re playing, okay?


[00:31:57] RH: Okay. 


[00:31:57] JO: Here we go. As you’re playing, I want you to visualize that every time your hand touches the table, you can sense the tension being released from your body with each touch, just letting out the stress and tension. Four, three, two, one, stop, two, three, four, one, two, and back to the groove. Go. Four, three, two, one, stop. 


[00:33:35] RH: That’s fantastic. I was just like, “Oh, we're in like a jam session.”


[00:33:40] JO: [inaudible 00:33:40]. Yeah. Just imagine doing it. I mean, I've had people, when I've done the HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming, which is a little more structured, and it's not the exact same thing. But we do have a time to jam. I've had people, I've had somebody fall asleep. I've had where I've had to turn on the light and I've had to tell them, “Okay, you all need to wake up because you all need to drive home.” I tell people that. They get relaxed. Because with HealthRHYTHMS, it’s a little bit different because we may play a heartbeat sound for an extended time. Then in that, I'll also tell them to think about the stress leaving your body and so forth, and people start to like, get too calm.


[00:34:29] RH: Well, I couldn't help but smile when we were doing that just now. I mean, you feel your whole body is moving. 


[00:34:34] JH:I know. I was like –


[00:34:36] RH: You really feel the rhythm, and I just think it's so magical. 


[00:34:40] JO: Yes. You know what? It’s awesome. I'm excited with this because in 2018, there was a study. It wasn't a huge one, but at least it was something that came out in [inaudible 00:34:53]. I liked it because there was African drumming and its effects on mood states. It did benefit those the most with anxiety and depression. Well, what’s funny is that that study came from, even though it was put in [inaudible 00:35:12], it actually was – I think the study was done in South Africa. Yeah. So I'm just saying we need to get some more stuff going on here in the United States. So I want to be one of the ones that really encourage this within our field.


[00:35:29] RH: Well, you're off to a great start. 


[00:35:31] JO: Well, thank you. Yeah. That’s kind of like where I'm at. Yeah, things are going well, so I can't complain at all. I'm doing now weekly Facebook Live but I'm going to alternate with Instagram Live. I'm going to alternate back and forth between weeks where people if want to join the TamboRhythms group or on Facebook, okay, you want to join the TamboRhythms group, or if they want to also follow me on Instagram @tamborhythms, then that way, they can have the opportunity to play along with me as I'm playing.


[00:36:05] JH:That's so fun. When will those be?


[00:36:08] JO: Right now, I have been doing it on Tuesdays, but that may change. But even if you miss it though, I'm going to leave the video of it. Well, some people might not be able to make that particular time or something's going on in their life, and so they can always go back, and they can play along to it and so forth. That’s a way that I can get people who may not be here to be able to play live in person. They can still experience it.


[00:36:37] JH:Yeah. I know I want to. 


[00:36:38] RH: Me too. We’re going to have to check those out.


[00:36:42] JO: Even though I enjoy the opportunity now and the possibilities with doing things virtual, it's also difficult because there's nothing like being in person. 


[00:36:55] RH: Nope. It’s so true. 


[00:36:57] JO: Yeah. It’s just that you don’t get that connection. You don't get the energy. You don't get just that attachment as you would, as if we were all sitting together in a room. I think the energy and the vibes and how we could feed off of each other's rhythm, we’d just be that much more grounding and that much more of a personal and peaceful time together.


[00:37:26] RH: I probably agree. 


[00:37:28] JH:Well, Jorge, thank you so much for sharing all of your passion and your wisdom about this with us.


[00:37:35] JO: Thank you so much for having me. I enjoy, especially when speaking with others that are in the OT field. I always like that because then I don't feel so, “Am I nuts? Am I the only one that’s [inaudible 00:37:47] into this?”


[00:37:48] JH: No, not at all. I’m so excited to check out all the things. 


[00:37:52] RH: Yeah. No, we'll geek out with you for sure on this.


[00:37:55] JO: Awesome. Yeah. One last thing too, if you're if ever stressed out or if you just want to just chill, I also have a video that's 25 minutes long on YouTube, where I'm playing for 60 beats per minute. Okay. If you played in video, you can play along to it or you can just lay down and listen to me play. That may help to calm you down. I actually sent a video to a friend of mine. While she and I were on the phone, she said that the video was making her sleepy as she was talking to me. Yeah. So that's something that you [inaudible 00:38:32] because playing something else as well. 


You can easily do this. Just download a metronome on your phone, and you can even wear a book. Set it for 60 beats per minute and start playing on a book. After like 20 to 30 minutes of playing it at that speed, that can increase your alpha brainwaves, which are those wave states that are associated with calming, being calm. That's another freebie for others that they want to go and check that out. It’s 25 minutes long, so you could fall asleep. I don't know if I would say to play it while you're driving.


[00:39:14] JH:Do it at bedtime, at bedtime. 


[00:39:16] JO: Yeah. Do it at bedtime or when you're [inaudible 00:39:18] or maybe even at work and you’re like at your desk and you're just like are [inaudible 00:39:23]. Just really, really stressed or angry about something. Yes. See if it works.


[00:39:30] JH: Well, we will make sure that we link all of your resources in the show notes, so people can listen to this episode and soak up everything that you have to offer.


[00:39:38] JO: Awesome. Thank you so much. 


[00:39:40] RH: Yes, of course. 


[00:39:40] JH:Yeah. Thank you.


[00:39:41] RH: We'll talk to you later, Jorge. 


[00:39:42] JO: Bye. 


[00:39:42] RH: Bye. 


[00:39:43] JH:Thank you. Bye. 


[00:39:44] JO: Thank you. 




[00:39:45] RH: That was fantastic. 


[00:39:47] JH:Okay. So here's what I need you to do is if you didn't join in on our jam session, then you need to go back to that part of the episode and try it with us. Yes. Close your eyes. Stop driving. Park the car. Pull over the side of the road. It's not a big deal. Just do it, as long as you're safe. 


[00:40:05] RH: Yes. But if you can't do that, at least go to YouTube and listen to what he has to offer there and see how it impacts you and see how it impacts your kiddos because it does. It goes hand in hand with the metronome work and all of the research behind that multi-sensory processing. Even when Jessica and I were playing with him, and he started talking, it added a layer of difficulty to have to continue with the rhythm and process the words as well. 


[00:40:35] JH:And I loved it. He did the talking part though. It just reminds me of meditation, like a guided meditation basically. 


[00:40:43] RH: I get why people fall asleep with this. 


[00:40:44] JH:For sure. For sure. Make sure you go follow him on Instagram. Go subscribe to his YouTube channel. Check out his website, all the things. 


[00:40:54] RH: Yes. We will plan on chatting with you again next week. 


[00:40:57] JH:Okay, bye.




[00:40:58] RH: Thank you so much for listening to All Things Sensory by Harkla. If you want more information on anything we mentioned in the show, head over to harkla.co./podcast to get all of the show notes. 


[00:41:10] JH:We always have the show notes and links, plus full transcripts to make following along as easy as possible for everyone. If you have follow-up questions, the best place to ask those is in the comments on the show or message us on our Instagram account, which is @harkla_family. If you just search Harkla, you’ll find us.


[00:41:30] RH: Like we mentioned before, our podcast listeners get 10% off their first order at Harkla. Whether it's for one of our digital courses, one of our sensory swings, the discount code SENSORY will save you 10%. That code is S-E-N-S-O-R-Y. Head over to harkla.co/sensory to use that code right now, so you don't forget.


[00:41:53] JH:We're so excited to work together to help create competent kids all over the world and work towards a happier, healthier life.


[00:41:59] RH: All right, we'll talk to you guys next week.


[00:42:03] RH: Just a friendly reminder, this is general information related to occupational therapy, pediatrics, and sensory integration. We do not know you or your child. Therefore, we do not know any specific needs. Therefore, you should always refer back to your pediatrician and occupational therapist for more information.



While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.

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