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  #1  
Old 05-01-2014, 01:07 PM
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Default Can rhythm be taught?

I'm not sure if this should be here or in technique.

My fiance has absolutely no rhythm whatsoever. She can't dance, can't tap along to music, can't sing, nothing. We once took salsa dancing lessons together which ended in purple feet for me.

Which led me to think of something interesting. Can rhythm be taught and how would you go about it?

Is it likely hidden within and just needs unlocking?
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  #2  
Old 05-01-2014, 01:38 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Yes. If they can conceptualize the spaces between a quarter, half, eighth, sixteenths of an inch then they can learn rhythm.

It's merely points on a line.
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Old 05-01-2014, 03:06 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

As Bill said - Yes it can.
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Old 05-01-2014, 04:35 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

rhythms themselves can be taught ... and they can be taught to be played in time... or stepped in time

but having "rhythm" in a sense of that inner funk.....that groove... that knowing how to move your body to music in a greasy kind of way .... your body being an extension of the vibrations of music in a Michael Jackson, Steve Jordan kind of way

no I don't believe that can be taught at all

that is something someone is born with or instilled in them from a very early impressionable stage in their life

that doesn't mean someone without that cannot play an instrument or dance well eventually.... it just means they will not have that slinky funk that the person who is naturally more rhythmic has

just one of those facts of life

like the guy awkwardly clapping on 1 and 3 at a Stevie Wonder concert while he stiffly bops back and forth

some people are just awkward rhythmically and there really is no changing it
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Old 05-01-2014, 04:59 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Agree with Tony.

Probably one of those things that we develop in our infant stages.

It's unfortunate for some because we learn so many beats, fills and styles but when we groove we still kinda sound the same as we did in high school.
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Old 05-01-2014, 06:41 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
rhythms themselves can be taught ... and they can be taught to be played in time... or stepped in time

but having "rhythm" in a sense of that inner funk.....that groove... that knowing how to move your body to music in a greasy kind of way .... your body being an extension of the vibrations of music in a Michael Jackson, Steve Jordan kind of way

no I don't believe that can be taught at all

that is something someone is born with or instilled in them from a very early impressionable stage in their life

that doesn't mean someone without that cannot play an instrument or dance well eventually.... it just means they will not have that slinky funk that the person who is naturally more rhythmic has

just one of those facts of life

like the guy awkwardly clapping on 1 and 3 at a Stevie Wonder concert while he stiffly bops back and forth

some people are just awkward rhythmically and there really is no changing it

I totally agree with this.

I loved the scenario. Sadly, I think I know some of these types of people. It's probably why I laughed so hard at the painted picture..
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Old 05-01-2014, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by BillRayDrums View Post
Yes. If they can conceptualize the spaces between a quarter, half, eighth, sixteenths of an inch then they can learn rhythm.

It's merely points on a line.
Billy, I laughed out loud at this! My fiance and a tape measure, oh dear lord!!!!

I've been very careful to make her think an inch is a very very small measurement! ;)

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Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
rhythms themselves can be taught ... and they can be taught to be played in time... or stepped in time

but having "rhythm" in a sense of that inner funk.....that groove... that knowing how to move your body to music in a greasy kind of way .... your body being an extension of the vibrations of music in a Michael Jackson, Steve Jordan kind of way

no I don't believe that can be taught at all

that is something someone is born with or instilled in them from a very early impressionable stage in their life

that doesn't mean someone without that cannot play an instrument or dance well eventually.... it just means they will not have that slinky funk that the person who is naturally more rhythmic has

just one of those facts of life

like the guy awkwardly clapping on 1 and 3 at a Stevie Wonder concert while he stiffly bops back and forth

some people are just awkward rhythmically and there really is no changing it
Yeah i think this is her unfortunate situation. Its funny that a drummer should end up with someone who has no rhythm whatsoever. She is terrrified about our first dance. She wants to go to dance lessons again, but the problem is we will be where we were last time. She needs a more fundamental teaching. dance classes assume you know what rhythm is and can feel it

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Originally Posted by Dre25 View Post
Agree with Tony.

Probably one of those things that we develop in our infant stages.

It's unfortunate for some because we learn so many beats, fills and styles but when we groove we still kinda sound the same as we did in high school.
I attribute that quite heavily to the first music that influenced us and I'm sure I once read a study on the music you listen to in your teens having a fundamental impact on you for the rest of your life. But I agree there is some element of inate groove that you fall back to.
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Old 05-01-2014, 07:26 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Cool thread -

I too have a rhythmically challenged wife. It is funny to because she is not white and thinks that BECAUSE she is not white that she has rhythm - (insert loud buzzer noise) not the case. While not a train wreck rhythmically speaking she does not possess the natural rhythm that Tony was talking about and that we all know and recognize - but she thinks she does, which is both wonderful and extremely funny (think Elaine from Seinfeld only browner).

Also when I was a young'n I used to just devour old R&B and early rock and roll records. My Dad gave me probably 100 or so old 45's from his high school days and the old man, while not a musician had some good tastes. My younger brother did not share my love of these old records preferring to listen to his (and mine I should say) collection of KISS albums. Fast forward years later - before he died my brother was a rhythm-less soul, couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time and he danced like the stereotypical white guy. While I do not enjoy dancing at all (I never ever ever dance) I feel like I do have a good sense of natural rhythm. Case in point - when i first started drum lessons I was noodling around on the student kit - not knowing what I was doing really. My teacher said "Where did you learn that?" I asked - "Learn what?". Teacher says - "How to swing the beat like that." I replied back "uh?"....

NOT bragging - just saying I think that listening to all of those old Little Richard records might have hooked me up a bit.... ...and oh how I love to wear makeup and gold lemay
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Old 05-01-2014, 07:57 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

We need to be careful not to confuse correlation with causation. If an adult hasn't yet learned rhythm, he/she most likely won't. It's possible that such a thing is more easily learned at a young age, but it's also possible that the individual self-identifies as being rhythmically challenged, and/or doesn't have the time or environment necessary to support the learning process, and/or doesn't have any real motivation.

I have seen students learn the "Steve Jordan Michael Jackson" groove thing, in person, and more than once, and I have also successfully taught drummers who had trouble just "feeling the beat". The vast majority, however, don't learn, not because it's impossible, but because they have already decided to not learn, and/or because their life circumstances don't permit it. Strangely, one student hears the "Steve Jordan Michael Jackson" groove thing, and has learned to play it a little, but just doesn't like it, saying she prefers quantized, evenly-spaced perfection. Until there's a paying gig or band she likes that demands she play that way, she probably won't learn it.

Neuroscience is still murky on the subject, but rhythm and musical detection is located primarily in the cerebellum, which evolved much earlier than other "higher" brain structures (cortex, etc.). So, it makes more sense that the capacity for rhythm exists in everyone, including primates. Indeed, patients with disorders affecting the higher structures (Altzheimer's) can usually perform on their musical instruments without any problem, even though they might not remember learning the instrument.

If your childhood and family life did not regularly and socially involve dynamic, challenging, interactive musical experiences (singing, dancing, playing instruments) on a daily basis (the reality of most musicians), then you will not have developed the capacity at an early age. For a child it's somewhat common to have this musical experience, but how practical is it for an adult to engage actively in this way for hours every day? You can't fairly compare the results of an adult taking lessons once a week to the child who has had music, held in a variety of contexts and activities, for many, many hours, all of his/her life. The learning we do when we're young is immersive and challenging and regular; the learning we do when we're older, well, we barely have time for it. It makes more sense to blame life in general, and not the individual or biology. Besides, as a teacher, it does no good to start labeling things as impossible to learn.
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Old 05-01-2014, 08:40 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Quote:
Originally Posted by brentcn View Post
We need to be careful not to confuse correlation with causation. If an adult hasn't yet learned rhythm, he/she most likely won't. It's possible that such a thing is more easily learned at a young age, but it's also possible that the individual self-identifies as being rhythmically challenged, and/or doesn't have the time or environment necessary to support the learning process, and/or doesn't have any real motivation.

I have seen students learn the "Steve Jordan Michael Jackson" groove thing, in person, and more than once, and I have also successfully taught drummers who had trouble just "feeling the beat". The vast majority, however, don't learn, not because it's impossible, but because they have already decided to not learn, and/or because their life circumstances don't permit it. Strangely, one student hears the "Steve Jordan Michael Jackson" groove thing, and has learned to play it a little, but just doesn't like it, saying she prefers quantized, evenly-spaced perfection. Until there's a paying gig or band she likes that demands she play that way, she probably won't learn it.

Neuroscience is still murky on the subject, but rhythm and musical detection is located primarily in the cerebellum, which evolved much earlier than other "higher" brain structures (cortex, etc.). So, it makes more sense that the capacity for rhythm exists in everyone, including primates. Indeed, patients with disorders affecting the higher structures (Altzheimer's) can usually perform on their musical instruments without any problem, even though they might not remember learning the instrument.

If your childhood and family life did not regularly and socially involve dynamic, challenging, interactive musical experiences (singing, dancing, playing instruments) on a daily basis (the reality of most musicians), then you will not have developed the capacity at an early age. For a child it's somewhat common to have this musical experience, but how practical is it for an adult to engage actively in this way for hours every day? You can't fairly compare the results of an adult taking lessons once a week to the child who has had music, held in a variety of contexts and activities, for many, many hours, all of his/her life. The learning we do when we're young is immersive and challenging and regular; the learning we do when we're older, well, we barely have time for it. It makes more sense to blame life in general, and not the individual or biology. Besides, as a teacher, it does no good to start labeling things as impossible to learn.
it is clear that you have completely misunderstood what I meant by "...in a Michael Jackson, Steve Jordan kind of way"

has absolutely zero to do with ... quantized, non quantized , evenly or unevenly spaced perfection or imperfection..., or anything to do with playing any instrument whatsoever for that matter

it is something internal that cannot be taught ... like natural athleticism, or something you do not have to work to achieve... it is just there waiting to be nurtured if you are so inclined to nurture it

we are not all created equal... and some are just born with a natural greasy pulse and their bodies are just naturally in tune with rhythm like the oceans to the moon

I teach children and adults everyday.... a few of them have it but most do not

this does not mean they cannot learn to play ... or dance... or whatever rhythmic adventure they desire to embark on

it just means they will never have a certain flow about what they do that the people blessed with this natural ability have

having this doesn't make you better or worse at what you do.... but it sure as hell is noticeable when it is there

and it cannot be taught in any way shape or form

and anyone who thinks it can is talking about something all together different than I am
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Old 05-01-2014, 08:44 PM
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  #11  
Old 05-01-2014, 08:48 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

There's a saying, "Time doesn't exist, clocks exist."

Rhythm can't be taught if the student doesn't know how to listen to it. Train the ears, train the player.
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Old 05-01-2014, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by NerfLad View Post
There's a saying, "Time doesn't exist, clocks exist."

Rhythm can't be taught if the student doesn't know how to listen to it. Train the ears, train the player.
Whomever said that doesn't understand relativity.... (I don't understand relativity either)
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Old 05-01-2014, 08:53 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Whomever said that doesn't understand relativity.... (I don't understand relativity either)
I disagree with it too, but it helped convey my point :)
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  #14  
Old 05-01-2014, 09:08 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Anything can be taught. Some people have more natural ability than others.

We've all seen the videos of young kids, even babies that just naturally groove.

We've also seen the audience members that can't even clap along at the right time.
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Old 05-01-2014, 09:23 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by Diet Kirk View Post
Which led me to think of something interesting. Can rhythm be taught and how would you go about it?

Is it likely hidden within and just needs unlocking?
The answer is probably more nuanced than a simple "some have it, some don't". You might be on to something by saying that it "just needs unlocking".

Relating tasks to motions and movements that we can already do (speaking aloud, clapping, foot tapping, etc.) is really at the heart of the learning process. Salsa dancing is a bit sophisticated for the novice, though, and it's based on music that is exotic to most North Americans. Maybe a bit of experience with simpler dancing would ease the transition, but by now her confidence is probably low.
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Old 05-01-2014, 09:26 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by NerfLad View Post
Train the ears, train the player.
It's funny, sometimes you'll notice that training the player also trains the ears. A student will swear on his/her life that what they're playing is 100% accurate, when it's obviously not. Some time later, after having developed more skills, that same student will listen and be surprised at how wrong they were.
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Old 05-01-2014, 10:24 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

I guess not everyone will achieve high artistry with it, but it can be taught to anyone who is interested in learning it. Some people might need more motivation, and more and better instruction on it than others. I think people should withhold judgment of their own abilities until they've actually made a serious effort at doing a thing, so this is kind of a useless question to me.
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  #18  
Old 05-01-2014, 10:28 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Yes...with enough time and energy invested.

Would your relationship survive it?...dunno...

The how is specific to the individual...and not something I would invest time in detailing here other than to say that learning about learning theory is VERY useful in life.

At any rate, let her set the tempo and intensity of the learning lest the page be torn.
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Old 05-01-2014, 11:05 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

I watched a couple dancing the other night. They were dancing the swing.
They were really really good. The guy was throwing that girl all over the place. It was fantastic dancing !

However, their steps were not to the beat of the music ?!?!

I have seen this many times before. The couples are dancing up a storm and really enjoying themselves. But not to the beat of the music.

I could never dance like that without stepping to the beat.
I guess I'm missing the point of dancing...........

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Old 05-01-2014, 11:17 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Isn't that why we use metronomes?
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Old 05-01-2014, 11:34 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

ooh, interesting point. i studied with the ridiculously amazing german drummer joachim fuchs-charrier for a few years as a teenager, and he told me that when he was that age he was worried that his timing wasn't perfect and he walked around listening to a digital metronome with headphones for over a year!!
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Old 05-01-2014, 11:58 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
Isn't that why we use metronomes?
Unless I misunderstand, the answer is no. Clicks don't teach rhythms. They help develop a sense of time and tempo, but keeping time and having good rhythm aren't exactly the same.

What weirds me out about this though, even the lady in the OP, I'm going to assume she can walk down the street in a non-awkward manner. Walking is a rhythm. Not only that, it's also coordination and rhythm in one. Take it a step further. We use our sense of rhythms when we speak, even day to day stuff. If you talk without any inflections or accents on your words, or with no sense of normal speaking rhythm, you're going to get a lot of funny looks.
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Old 05-02-2014, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by Yodelling Sheep View Post
ooh, interesting point. i studied with the ridiculously amazing german drummer joachim fuchs-charrier for a few years as a teenager, and he told me that when he was that age he was worried that his timing wasn't perfect and he walked around listening to a digital metronome with headphones for over a year!!
being able to play or dance or walk in time and having good "rhythm" are two completely different things

at least to me they are

correct me if I am wrong.... but we are not talking about staying in time metronomically .... and we are not talking about rhythms in the sense of 8th, 16ths, and triplets.... but we are talking about coordinated body movements and them having "rhythm"
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Old 05-02-2014, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr_Watso View Post
Unless I misunderstand, the answer is no. Clicks don't teach rhythms. They help develop a sense of time and tempo, but keeping time and having good rhythm aren't exactly the same.

What weirds me out about this though, even the lady in the OP, I'm going to assume she can walk down the street in a non-awkward manner. Walking is a rhythm. Not only that, it's also coordination and rhythm in one. Take it a step further. We use our sense of rhythms when we speak, even day to day stuff. If you talk without any inflections or accents on your words, or with no sense of normal speaking rhythm, you're going to get a lot of funny looks.
From what I am reading on line, Rhythm is the movement of something in time. In order to move in rhythm you have to have a sense of time. I will stick with my metronome teaching me time so that I can play rhythm. As a young Phys Ed student in college we had a class called Rhythmic analysis. We walked, danced, moved to a metronome . To improve our timing. If a drummer has timing he will be able to keep time or keep the rhythm of the band. We can teach rhythm.

In the performance arts rhythm is the timing of events on a human scale; of musical sounds and silences
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Old 05-02-2014, 12:51 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

A person with average abilities with a tremendous amount of hard work will never be as good in sports as the natural who practices but not as much.

Hakeem Olajuwon went from never having played basketball to being the best college player in the country in less than 4 years. There are people, just as tall, who could NEVER get to that level, no matter how much they practiced.

It seems to me that rhythm or musicality or talent is like that. I have a friend with whom I have worked for years who still can't feel 4 bars and forget about an anticipated 16th. On the other hand, I've shown the same concepts to others who were like "Of course" and just went with it.

Can it be taught? Yes, but only so far. In the same way that I will never bench press 400 lbs, now matter how much I work out, some people will never be able to play a samba with authenticity.
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Old 05-02-2014, 01:13 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

A better way of phrasing the thread title is can rhythm be learned. I believe it can. To be able to teach rhythm relies on if the student can learn it. A giant part of learning is wanting to learn. So if a person doesn't have "it", but recognizes "it" and covets "it", and is a hard and effective worker towards the goal of "it", yes, I believe rhythm can become a part of one's psyche, where it didn't exist or was very underdeveloped before. I can groove now and I couldn't for most of my life, I think it's the same kind of thing. I can't dance very well but I bet I could be taught.
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Old 05-02-2014, 01:49 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
From what I am reading on line, Rhythm is the movement of something in time. In order to move in rhythm you have to have a sense of time. I will stick with my metronome teaching me time so that I can play rhythm. As a young Phys Ed student in college we had a class called Rhythmic analysis. We walked, danced, moved to a metronome . To improve our timing. If a drummer has timing he will be able to keep time or keep the rhythm of the band. We can teach rhythm.

In the performance arts rhythm is the timing of events on a human scale; of musical sounds and silences
I think that most people can clap along to a metronome just fine given some practice, it's the ones with natural rhythm who have the easiest time of it, and are able to both "hear" and apply different rhythms within the time.

And frankly, music has been around a lot longer than the concept of a metronome has. Amazonian tribes who have no idea what a metronome is still have people within the tribe that they pick to play the various percussion/musical instruments... The ones with a more natural or developed sense of rhythm.
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Old 05-02-2014, 02:51 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

""The ones with a more natural or developed sense of rhythm.""

How was that sense of rhythm developed? By learning. Using a metronome is only one way of learning rhythm. I am quite aware that Amazonian tribes do not have metronomes. I never implied that metronomes were the only method used to learn time or rhythm But we drummers use metronomes to reinforce time which becomes rhythm when we play. We can agree to disagree but I will stand by my training and belief that rhythm can be taught. If you wish to pick at, or mince words then have at it.
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Old 05-02-2014, 02:55 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
""The ones with a more natural or developed sense of rhythm.""

How was that sense of rhythm developed? By learning. Using a metronome is only one way of learning rhythm. I am quite aware that Amazonian tribes do not have metronomes. I never implied that metronomes were the only method used to learn time or rhythm But we drummers use metronomes to reinforce time which becomes rhythm when we play. We can agree to disagree but I will stand by my training and belief that rhythm can be taught. If you wish to pick at, or mince words then have at it.
Are you saying that anyone can be Elvin Jones if they just practice enough to a metronome?
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Old 05-02-2014, 03:03 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Not at all, just like not everyone can be Michael Jordan who plays basketball 8 hours a day, but they can improve or learn. If they can learn, then they can be taught. Everyone doesn't have to attain the same level to be taught? And as I said before the metronome isn't the only tool to be used. You seem to be hung on that.
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Old 05-02-2014, 03:38 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
the metronome isn't the only tool to be used.
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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
Using a metronome is only one way of learning rhythm.
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Old 05-02-2014, 03:58 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

I agree with Tony that our potentials are unequal. Playing most instruments is a physical activity and we are all physically different. Most people aren't any more capable of being an Ussain Bolt or Stephen Hawking than they can be Tony Williams.

I've played on and off for decades and, like many others, I'm both amazed and appalled to see videos of young children who kick my sorry drumming arse.
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Old 05-02-2014, 03:59 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Sadly, there are a few poor souls out there who are rhythmically challenged. I pity them.

I mean, you gotta have some sort of rhythm to even consider playing the drums or dancing. I hear some of you guys play and I can just hear the smoothness in the rhythm. I have to work hard to find any sense of rhythmic smoothness that even comes close. That natural born talent is most definitely helpful. I wouldn't say I was born any more talented than anybody else. Lots of you guys have put in the time and relentlessly studied this instrument, and it shows in yours skills and playing ability. I really haven't done that. I'm lazy about studying. I used to get A's in high school and never had to study too hard at all.

But the drums aren't like that. You want to get good? You want to get that good? You gotta put in the time and study rhythm. The metronome will give you tempo, but a certain rhythm can be played at many different tempos. The drums will put out as much as you put into it.
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Old 05-02-2014, 04:37 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

I didn't take the time to nut it out but I think I can build on what I said.

I believe that in our mind we have our own metronome and timing sensor. I think that if it performs well, it could reward us for being on time or aligned with the music we hear. I really respond to this reward, so I am a slave to the beat, but it's reasonable if someone doesn't care whether they "hit the target", so long as they don't want to be dancers or musicians.

Then there's our physical form, an instrument itself - trying to express what's in our mind.

When I think someone is rhythmically off, it's based on what they are physically doing. I don't really know if I can tell that their internal rhythm is bad, it might be something in their arms or legs or their ability to listen and correct imperfections. But I am guilty of thinking that their inner metronome has kinks.

A beginner will sound off because they haven't yet figured out how to physically express the timing they feel in their mind, but once that skill is realized, I think it's quite hard to improve on hence the "potentials are unequal" comment. Excuse the rambling. I think what I'm saying is:

Whether a person is still on a path to improve their physical expression or whether they're inherently flawed, I don't know if we can tell.
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Old 05-02-2014, 04:45 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
......................
Isn't the only way

is only one way

what are you reading Anthony? You're trying to make it look like I contradicted myself. Read the lines again. Not the ONLY way, is only ONE way. I'm saying the same thing here boys and girls.

Read the OP's question. Can rhythm be taught? Not can everyone be taught to the same level. not can everyone be taught to be perfect, but can rhythm be taught.
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Old 05-02-2014, 07:09 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Hehe Grunt. Only ONE way vs ONLY one way :)

If I had a dollar for every time I've been chipped online based on an accidental double meaning of text I could buy a new pair of sticks ... Australian prices!
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Old 05-02-2014, 07:23 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Can it be taught, absolutely. Does everyone get it, nope. Just like any other activity that requires physical manipulation of the body, some people just aren't rhythmically inclined. There is the guy who loves music but can't clap in time, no matter how much he tries. There are the people who can't dance no matter what. Lets not forget the karaoke folks who know all the words but are all over the place with their placement. Some people just don't get it, and there is no reason to believe that we all have it. Some people just don't get some things. My cooking sucks, and I have been doing it forever. I can't dance one bit, even though I can memorize the steps. To say that everyone has rhythm is like saying that everyone can wiggle their ears. We all have the muscles to do so, but not everyone can do it. I have been trying since I was a kid and still haven't figured it out.
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Old 05-02-2014, 07:54 AM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Rhythm can be taught just as a raven can be taught to perform tasks for food or a dog trained to do various tricks. That much is a given.

As far as gaining Elvin Jones' technique, you're gonna develop YOUR technique; you may develop TO Elvin's technique and pattern your flow after his but Elvin you'll never be. There's only one you. Make it count.
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Old 05-02-2014, 12:23 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

Yikes, I've kicked off another doozy here havn't I?

Just call me Paul the polarizer!

I think in a way this thread can almost be split into two.

1. My fiance has no rhythm whatsoever can I teach her to flow like treacle?

2. Nature or nurture, do drummers plateau at a point where only having an innate natural rhythm can advance their playing?

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Originally Posted by brentcn View Post
The answer is probably more nuanced than a simple "some have it, some don't". You might be on to something by saying that it "just needs unlocking".

Relating tasks to motions and movements that we can already do (speaking aloud, clapping, foot tapping, etc.) is really at the heart of the learning process. Salsa dancing is a bit sophisticated for the novice, though, and it's based on music that is exotic to most North Americans. Maybe a bit of experience with simpler dancing would ease the transition, but by now her confidence is probably low.
I think you are right, and a few others have mentioned the same kind of thing. There are obviously shades of grey involved here. I wish I could sit you all in a room with my fiance though and show you, I really have never seen it this bad!

She is a teacher, teaching 5-6 year olds and they have certain times of the week where they just put music on and the kids dance. She marvels at these little tiny people who just have great rhythm. Now she teaches in an inner city London school, her class contains a huge range of ethnicities and languages, very few are native english speakers. she has identified that race plays a part in this ability.

I think she's sort of missing the point here, I think its more a culture thing. Somebody else mentioned living in a house where music was an integral part of growing up in their formative years. Certainly for the african and indian people I know this is much more common and likely than in many of my caucasian friends homes.

We tried salsa, because it became a bit of a thing for a while in the UK, couples learning salsa. Her suggestion, but I totally agree we should have started simpler! The fun fact she will never know is that one of my exes used to be a ballet dancer and we went to salsa dance classes together and tore it up, she actually made me a better dancer. Now that girl had "it".

I might start putting music on in the house and grabbing her for a spin around the living room, build her confidence for the first dance!

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Originally Posted by Otto View Post
Yes...with enough time and energy invested.

Would your relationship survive it?...dunno...

The how is specific to the individual...and not something I would invest time in detailing here other than to say that learning about learning theory is VERY useful in life.

At any rate, let her set the tempo and intensity of the learning lest the page be torn.
Yep, this is the key, does she even want to learn? I'm not sure she is prepared to invest in it, but I do know she wishes she had rhythm.

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Originally Posted by Hollywood Jim View Post
I watched a couple dancing the other night. They were dancing the swing.
They were really really good. The guy was throwing that girl all over the place. It was fantastic dancing !

However, their steps were not to the beat of the music ?!?!

I have seen this many times before. The couples are dancing up a storm and really enjoying themselves. But not to the beat of the music.

I could never dance like that without stepping to the beat.
I guess I'm missing the point of dancing...........
By the sounds of it they are missing the point of dancing not you!

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Originally Posted by Dr_Watso View Post
What weirds me out about this though, even the lady in the OP, I'm going to assume she can walk down the street in a non-awkward manner. Walking is a rhythm. Not only that, it's also coordination and rhythm in one. Take it a step further. We use our sense of rhythms when we speak, even day to day stuff. If you talk without any inflections or accents on your words, or with no sense of normal speaking rhythm, you're going to get a lot of funny looks.
um, yes and no. She can obviously walk down the street without falling over, but she is not blessed with a great deal of general coordination or spatial awareness. Maybe all these things are inter linked?

i remember doing some stuff on proprioception (the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement, for those who've never heard of it) at university.

She has never really played sport before either, and I think playing sport teaches you that level of body awareness, the ability to absorb and assess your surroundings and fold the whole lot up into how you move your body, whether that be to take a slap shot off your back foot, or dance to a beat.

Also re speaking, she has a problem with tone. She often says things that sound harsh, but she didn't mean them to come out that way. Obviously she doesn't speak with no inflections or accents at all. But interesting that the only funny quirks about her are all kind off related.

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Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
being able to play or dance or walk in time and having good "rhythm" are two completely different things

at least to me they are

correct me if I am wrong.... but we are not talking about staying in time metronomically .... and we are not talking about rhythms in the sense of 8th, 16ths, and triplets.... but we are talking about coordinated body movements and them having "rhythm"
correct Tony, that was the essence of my original post.

i think even if we moved into the possible offshoot to this post I suggested above, we are still not talking about metronomic time, more that greasy un-pin downable trait you mentioned previously.

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Originally Posted by Jeff Almeyda View Post
A person with average abilities with a tremendous amount of hard work will never be as good in sports as the natural who practices but not as much.

Hakeem Olajuwon went from never having played basketball to being the best college player in the country in less than 4 years. There are people, just as tall, who could NEVER get to that level, no matter how much they practiced.

It seems to me that rhythm or musicality or talent is like that. I have a friend with whom I have worked for years who still can't feel 4 bars and forget about an anticipated 16th. On the other hand, I've shown the same concepts to others who were like "Of course" and just went with it.

Can it be taught? Yes, but only so far. In the same way that I will never bench press 400 lbs, now matter how much I work out, some people will never be able to play a samba with authenticity.
I agree I do put some stock in the nature argument.

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
A better way of phrasing the thread title is can rhythm be learned. I believe it can. To be able to teach rhythm relies on if the student can learn it. A giant part of learning is wanting to learn. So if a person doesn't have "it", but recognizes "it" and covets "it", and is a hard and effective worker towards the goal of "it", yes, I believe rhythm can become a part of one's psyche, where it didn't exist or was very underdeveloped before. I can groove now and I couldn't for most of my life, I think it's the same kind of thing. I can't dance very well but I bet I could be taught.
I will try and test the theory if she will learn! Incidentally i thought all drummers could dance?

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Originally Posted by MrInsanePolack View Post
Can it be taught, absolutely. Does everyone get it, nope. Just like any other activity that requires physical manipulation of the body, some people just aren't rhythmically inclined. There is the guy who loves music but can't clap in time, no matter how much he tries. There are the people who can't dance no matter what. Lets not forget the karaoke folks who know all the words but are all over the place with their placement. Some people just don't get it, and there is no reason to believe that we all have it. Some people just don't get some things. My cooking sucks, and I have been doing it forever. I can't dance one bit, even though I can memorize the steps. To say that everyone has rhythm is like saying that everyone can wiggle their ears. We all have the muscles to do so, but not everyone can do it. I have been trying since I was a kid and still haven't figured it out.
Again, i thought all drummers can dance! and I didn't know we all had the ear wiggling muscles, interesting!

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Originally Posted by BillRayDrums View Post
Rhythm can be taught just as a raven can be taught to perform tasks for food or a dog trained to do various tricks. That much is a given.

As far as gaining Elvin Jones' technique, you're gonna develop YOUR technique; you may develop TO Elvin's technique and pattern your flow after his but Elvin you'll never be. There's only one you. Make it count.
Billy I think you have hit on the possible two offshoots to this thread now. 1, I will try tempting her with sweet treats after every successful display of rhythm.

2. Chalk up another proponent of the nature crew!

As a total aside, one of the reasons I think in my fiance it could be unlockable. She normally sings along to songs, but just in bits and pieces, in a total monotone and way way off key. One day she sang one line of a song on the radio not just in key, but she sang a high harmony line version of the main vocal! When I asked her to do it again she couldnt haha.

I also realise I'm making the poor girl come across as a right weirdo, I can assure you all she is lovely!
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Old 05-02-2014, 01:25 PM
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Default Re: Can rhythm be taught?

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Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
Hehe Grunt. Only ONE way vs ONLY one way :)

If I had a dollar for every time I've been chipped online based on an accidental double meaning of text I could buy a new pair of sticks ... Australian prices!
You also read it wrong. How about, There is more than one way to skin a cat, and skinning a cat isn't the only way. woulld that help? either way you guys have fun.
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Last edited by GruntersDad; 05-02-2014 at 01:55 PM.
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