Today I have a very simple exercise that you can try with someone who claims that they can’t keep a beat. Or someone who can’t keep a beat, but they don’t know it. Or someone who is trying to learn a new and tricky rhythm.
I will get into why this works in a later message. My experience with this process is that it works, and that is enough for me.
Here is what you do: Sit facing your friend or student (or just sit if you are doing this by yourself), and you both cross your wrists so that your hands are resting on the opposite knee. Right hand on left knee, left hand on right knee. It also helps to tap both of your feet or toes in time along with your hands.
You then tap your knees to keep time to a recording or a drum track of the song that you are working on. Do this for a few minutes, and then try playing the song again together, tapping your feet.
Try this out and ask yourself if there is a difference in how well you or your friend can keep time.
I have done this a number of times with people who claimed that they could not keep a beat. I maintained eye contact to keep them engaged, and after one session, I noticed a real difference in their ability to kep a groove.
I have also done this by myself when I have worked on a new rhythm to speed up the process of getting the feel of it.
The short explanation is that this speeds up the process of getting both sides of your body and mind on the same page. I’ll break out the fancy language in the next email.
Let me know if this makes any difference to you!