Professor Marcus Smith


Professor in Applied Sport and Exercise Science (University of Chichester)

Background (1977-1998)

Marcus first became aware of the band Blondie in 1977 when he purchased their first 12 inch single at the tender age of 12.

Blondie rip her to shreds
The start of a new journey.

Marcus’s first experience of seeing Clem play live took place in January 1980 at the Birmingham Odeon aged 14.

Blondie ticket 1980a
Nothing beats live music.

Jump forward 18 years and Blondie reform.

Blondie lyceum 1998

The timing of this reunion coincided with Marcus’s completion of a PhD in Exercise Physiology at the University of Chichester.

Thank you Professor Tudor Hale. A true visionary and inspiration.

Marcus’s PhD contained data collected over a 10 year period whilst working with the England and Great Britain Olympic boxing team. This exposure to elite performers allowed him to develop a scientific model of analysing physical performance.

Richie Woodhall – a true Olympian, boxing at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

After watching Clem play live with Blondie at the London Lyceum in 1998 Marcus wrote to Clem asking whether he would be interested in collaborating on a research project exploring the physiological demands of drumming. Clem agreed and this was the start of a 20 year journey of discovery that has resulted in collaborative work being undertaken with incredible people across a range of fascinating topics.

First meeting … mutual respect.

Background (1999-2018).

The following section provides a brief overview of some of the major events that Marcus has been directly involved in. More detailed information, such as publication of research articles, can be located in different sections of the website.

Marcus first met Clem prior to Blondie’s ‘No Exit’ European Tour gig at Wembley Arena in 1999. A friendship was quickly developed based upon mutual respect for each others area of expertise. A programme of work was established with the first recording of Clem’s heart rate captured during a live performance at Bournemouth International Centre. This data was first published in a book edited by Allan Metz.

Allan Metz
First publication containing heart rate profile of Clem playing live in concert.

In 2004 the first measurement of estimated energy expenditure took place at Blondie’s gig at the Manchester Apollo. This work was undertaken with colleagues Dr Steve Draper and Dr Chris Potter.

First attempt at measuring Clem’s energy expenditure whilst playing.

In 2008 the Clem Burke Drumming Project (CBDP) was launched and became a global news story.

Interviews given across Europe, USA, Canada, India and Australia.

The main person who facilitated the successful launch of the CBDP in 2008 was Marcus’s dear friend Steve Rendle. Steve was the driving force behind the development of the first CBDP website and was always there for Marcus when he needed help and support. Marcus will be forever grateful and Steve is always in his thoughts.

Never forgotten

The trademark CBDP logo was also designed in 2008 incorporating the letters CBDP and  red/white/blue target image.

Clem Burke Drumming Project logo no titlecropped
Thanks to Dr Steve Draper, Roy Donaldson and Chris Anderson.

First research findings highlighting the physiological demands of drumming were presented at the 2008 British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Conference (London) and the 2008 European Colleges of Sport Science (Portugal).

Clem poster BASES AUG 2008final
Always interesting presenting research findings to fellow academics.

Clem’s first visit to the University of Chichester took place in 2009 where he not only showcased his drumming skills to local school children but also discussed the importance of collaboration between musicians, academics and business. 

Clem inspiring the next generation of drummers!

In 2009 co-founding members of the CBDP presented research findings at the London International Music Show and the Cheltenham Science Festival, supported by Darrin Mooney (drummer, Primal Scream).

Various footy & LIMS 507
Ability to communicate across a variety of platforms is key to making research findings meaningful.

In 2010 research findings were presented at the Biorhythm Live event in Dublin (Ireland – supported by Jeremy Hickey, drummer RSAG) and the 6th Games for Health Annual Conference in Boston (USA – supported by Kevin Figueiredo,  drummer Extreme).

Great fun discussing the science of drumming with the general public.

The award of an Honorary Doctorate of Music (PhD) for Clem in 2011 was significant in terms of the academic recognition for the quality of research being undertaken by the CBDP.

Dr Marcus Smith, Dr Paul Hartley, Dr Clem Burke and Dr Steve Draper.

Marcus presented findings from the first CBDP study using drumming as an intervention among primary school children at the 2011 Wellbeing Conference (Birmingham, England). 

Always rewarding working with primary school children.

To accompany the 2012 Olympic Games in London The International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport was held in Glasgow (Scotland). Representatives from the CBDP gave a number of presentations, supported by Mark Richardson  (drummer, Skunk Anansie).

Marcus presenting at pre 2012 Olympic Games Conference.

Also in 2012 Marcus became a Visiting Researcher at Kings College London where he collaborated with Professor Steve Williams on a research bid that secured funding from the Waterloo Foundation Charity. This funding led to research that showed the positive effects on brain structure and function following drumming practice.

DSCF3382 - Copy
MRI scanning at Kings College London.

In 2013 the first manuscript was published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine highlighting the physiological demands of rock drumming.

De la Rue 2013
First CBDP paper highlighting the energy expenditure of rock/pop drumming.

The thermal challenge of drumming was first presented at the 2013 European Colleges of Sports Science conference in Barcelona. A big thank you to Jamie Oliver (drummer, UK SUBS).

Jamie Oliver drumming in an environmental chamber set at 32 degrees C and 80% relative humidity.

A personal highlight of the work undertaken so far by the CBDP was a presentation Marcus gave at the 2014 British Cardiovascular Society Annual Conference (Manchester). With the support of Mark Richardson (drummer, Skunk Anansie) they were able to demonstrate the potential health benefits of drumming as a physical activity and its role in cardiac rehabilitation.

Mark Richardson doing his thing – awesome!

In 2015 Marcus was approached by Tony Barrell about contributing to his book ‘Born to Drum’. This was an interesting experience and highlighted a different method of sharing our experiences with the outside world.

tony barrell
Excellent book showcasing work undertaken by CBDP.

The first publication of our research findings showing changes in connectivity pathways within the human brain following drumming practice appeared in the neuroscience journal ‘Cerebral Cortex’ in 2016.

Ali paper2016
First CBDP paper showing changes in brain connectivity post drumming practice.

In 2017 the Waterloo Foundation Charity agreed to fund our first study examining the effect of drumming practice, on brain plasticity, in young autistic adults.

Significant collaboration in support of future CBDP research interests.

Also in 2017 Clem visited the University of Chichester as part of a SKY ARTS documentary called ‘MY VIEW: Clem Burke’ focusing on his life as a drummer. Clem underwent a series of drumming specific tests developed by the CBDP.  

SKYARTS filming Clem at University of Chichester.

In 2018 our first paper highlighting the health and wellbeing benefits of drumming amongst 7 and 8 year old children in a primary school environment was published.

Ruth paper 2108
First CBDP paper enhanced health and wellbeing following drumming practice.

The launch of a new website and logo to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the CBDP also took place in 2018.

CBDP new logo Dec 2017
New logo for 2018

Also in 2018 Marcus was part of a team that secured funding from the University of Chichester and Hartpury University Centre to undertake research exploring the health benefits of drumming among autistic young adults. 

Dr Steve Draper and Dr Marcus Smith

In 2020 Marcus was a co-author of a paper showing the positive effect of drumming practice on brain plasticity.

Published in the highly prestigious journal ‘Scientific Reports’

In 2021 Marcus was appointed the title: ‘Professor of Applied Sport and Exercise Science’ by the University of Chichester for research undertaken with elite athletes and world class musicians.

Professor Marcus Smith

In 2021 Marcus was part of a core team that supported Owain Wyn Evans BBC Children in Need 24-hour Drumathon. The event raised over £3.8 million for disadvantaged children in the UK.

Owain discussing his preparation for the drumathon!
Marcus’s recording of the ‘Big-Bang’ moment!
Marcus, Prof Greg Whyte and Owain before the challenge commenced
Mark Richardson, Lisa Kelly, Marcus and Owain post 24-hour drumathon

In 2022 Marcus was a co-author of a paper showing the positive effects of drum practice on adolescents with autism.

Published in the highly prestigious journal PNAS
(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

In 2022 Marcus organised the first 1-day drumming conference at the University of Chichester, showcasing the health benefits of drumming.

First 1-day drumming conference at University of Chichester

In 2022 Marcus gave the oration for Clem Burke’s Honorary Doctorate of Music by the University of Chichester.

Marcus reading citation for Clem Burke’s Honorary Doctor of Music in Chichester Cathedral

In 2022 Marcus gave his inaugural professorial lecture titled: ‘Beyond the barriers: Observations, Innovations, Investigations and applications’ at the University of Chichester.

Marcus delivering inaugural lecture in the ‘Show Room’ at University of Chichester
Marcus, Dr Clem Burke, Mark Richardson & Prof Steve Draper
Marcus, Dr Clem Burke and Prof Steve Williams

In 2023 Marcus worked with Roland Global to produce an animated video showcasing the health benefits of rock drumming.

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