Changing the way we teach drumming

I fulfilled a gift certificate for a drumming session that was a gift from the son to the father who was elderly but game for a drumming. They were charming and intent, my favorite kind of drummer. They had absolutely no sense of rhythm. Now this may seem cruel to say: that’s why I said it. Most drum teachers feel that way with certain people who are interested in drumming. We have all been disenfranchised from our natural sense of rhythm. Call it rhythmic dislocation if you want a term. Heard it here first. Most people are coming to the drum to get adjusted, not necessarily to become good drummers. Although that is a good thing too. When people who “don’t have a sense of rhythm” ask to be taught to drum I love it. I get to learn something about human beings. About me. Look at our sense of rhythm as part of our guidance system; it is a survival tool. It can get knocked out of alignment by trauma, shock, fear, anger, injury, stress, illness, mysterious things that go bump in the dark part of our mind. But our sense of rhythm can save us too. Quicker than the mind if it has to. It takes buddha patience to stay laid back at 40 beats a minute. Downbeat on one and three, edge note on two and four. Going on for ten twenty, thirty, forty minutes. No other notes, but making it feel safe and laid back, forgiving when they strayed, and going with them if need be, but all the while coaxing them toward the groove. They get it for a moment then lose it. I must stay steady for them to find their way back; back from confusion. Their mind distracting them from their basic essence. Slowly the steady groove becomes familiar ┬áto them through the body. They reattach to their body and settle into trusting their own sense of rhythm. They smile.

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