In a previous musical life, I worked as an organist for ballroom and latin dancers! Okay, you can settle down now! Stop laughing already! I know it wasn’t very rock ‘n’ roll but it did have its benefits…

On the whole, the dancing communities I encountered were lovely and it was a pleasure to supply a quickstep or a rumba for them to elegantly glide around the dance floor.

But there was just one or two, you know the kind! The ones that spend too much time each week in the tanning salon and their over the top outfits would make a drag queen blush! In the early days, I could swear there were moments when I thought they were going to drag me from the stage and lynch me!

Why am I telling you this story? I learnt quickly that tempo and rhythm are [···]

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Photo: babasteve

“Eric’s got no sense of rhythm”, sighs his mother, as she drops him off for his lesson one day. “I guess it runs in the family. I never could play in time, and I can’t dance at all.”

“Come on, Eric,” I say, encouragingly, looking down at the anxious nine year old, fiddling with his music case. “Let’s go have some fun.” Later, after we march around the room keeping time with the music and take turns to play rhythmic patterns on the drums, it seems far more likely to me that he’s just been disconnected from his natural sense of pulse and rhythm.

So how can we assist our students in getting back in touch with that natural connection?


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Here are some fun ideas to use as ice breakers or to brush up on rhythm skills in group lessons and workshops. I’ve even used them to kick off my teacher workshops, and they inspired very enthusiastic participation from all!

The Rhythm Ring

1)  Prior to class, set out a group of rhythm instruments in the middle of a circle of chairs or rug area where the students will be sitting. As they enter, explain that you will be passing the instruments out to those who are waiting patiently when class begins. (This will help with chaos control!)

2)  Ask the students to think of a rhythmic pattern in 4/4 time, and to be prepared to play it repeatedly, once they have been asked to join in the rhythm ring.  [···]

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