Learning Music: Body

The rhythm tree

One of our main objectives is to feel the rhythms we are playing, so often
when people are playing music we are trying to work thinks out and then we
have got it we want move to the next thing, never taking the rhythms into our
bodies and getting to the stage where we don’t have to think about what we
are playing but just feel and enjoy it. For some of us it can take a life time but
what we need to do is bypass our brains and connect with the feelings and
they give us. A good way of doing this is playing rhythms for sometime.
When I learn from my teachers in West Africa I may often be left for one
hour just playing the same thing so that when I come to play it again I don’t
have to think it through, instead the rhythm comes to me from within , I have
internalised it.


Improvising can sound quite frightening, like a public humiliation trying to be
free with something you haven’t got a clue about. If we are speaking we
have a language, we can go from word to word, constructing sentences,
however well or badly which people understand and can get meaning or
understanding from. The same is true of improvising we need to feel free in
the language of rhythm, we need to be able to speak through our drums,
understand there own language and communicate with the other musicians
and the audience. All of this takes some time but in a simple way it can be
started straight away. What we are looking towards in improvising are things
like being able to feel the beat in the music and the ability to go freely from
one rhythm to another while still keeping with every one else.

We will work at doing this within different rhythms and practice playing
different rhythms and beats over each other building our confidence and
freedom within rhythms.