The Drumbelt resulted from a collaborative effort between multiple educators, researchers, and musicians. The primary inventor, Ande Sumner, shares her story below.
by Ande Sumner
The belt was designed as a part of my dissertation, which focused on the effects of load carriage in marching band drumlines. I had been a member of a marching band from high school through college, and although I was a brass player, I was aware of the issues associated with wearing a heavy drum. My initial research was simply the anecdotal evidence of hearing how much discomfort the drummers were experiencing on a day to day basis. I was also hearing from former drumline members who were experiencing long term chronic back pain that they associated with having marched for many years.
The first part of the research was simply the initial question of what happens to the body biomechanically when a person is loaded with a drum and carrier. The biggest impact point I found during my research was the contact pressure at the shoulders. Increased levels of contact pressure can account for both musculoskeletal and neurological issues, which is interpreted by the drummers as neck, back, and shoulder pain. The second part of the research came about when I wanted to see what happened if I applied an intervention, in this case the drumbelt. Would it be possible to reduce the discomfort of wearing a drum, and decrease the chances of an injury?
I started looking to see what products if any existed, and for a variety of reasons nothing on the current market seemed to work; therefore, I started designing my own belt. The belt was primarily designed for the drummer population, but as it developed, I also starting thinking about other applications in other industries, such as medicine and patient care. One of the benefits I had on my side to helping me create the belt was my education as a biomechanist and my resources at Auburn University. The skills I had learned in my graduate program allowed me to design not just a piece of fabric to wrap around a drum, but required me to take into consideration human anatomy, human mechanics, and material mechanics. I was also aware of equipment compatibility, cost, and as an extra bonus for parents, making the belt washable and sturdy.
What I wanted was a belt that was biomechanically sound and above all didn’t cause more discomfort or pain to the drummer. I have to admit that being able to see a design come about from drawings and ideas was a very surreal and humbling event, but the best feeling still came when the participants in my study and the local high school drummers told me that it made them feel better, and that performing was much less painful. The current model is durable and is comprised of industrial grade materials, washable, long lasting allowing drummers to use the same belt for three to four years, it’s easy to use, and retro fits all brands of drum carriers.
More detail about the origins of the Drumbelt can be found in the official press release.