I have gotten a variety of responses to the rhythm exercise idea, ranging from “I don’t need this.” to “Wow! this is realy cool!”.
I also got enough questions about exactly what to do that I will describe it again as clearly as I can.
You sit and cross your arms near your wrists so you can tap your right knee with your left hand, and your left knee with your right hand.
You tap both knees at exactly the same time, and tap both of your feet at the same time you are tapping your hands. Both feet and both hands coming down at the same time. It does not matter if you are tapping your heels or your toes, as long s you keep the beat.
This will help you rapidly absorb a rhythm or help a student that is having a hard time with keeping a beat. I have done this as part of my own practice for time signatures like 5/4 that I don’t use a lot, and it gets me in the groove fast.
I started doing this with students that claimed that they could not keep a beat, and many of them were amazed at how much of a difference it made in less than 5 minutes.
Why does this work? The least technical explanation I can give you is this: We have a left side and a right side to our brains and they don’t always work together. There is a bundle of nerves at the base of the brain that regulates “cross talk” between the left and right sides of your brain.
The left brain controls the right side of the body and the right brain controls the left side of the body. When you cross your arms and tap the opposite knees, you are creating signals that promote cross talk, and this makes it easier to get both sides of your brain and body on the same page as far as the beat.
You can also do variations of this discreetly under a table if you are in a meeting (for example)and starting to feel “disconnected”. Just tapping opposite legs with your fingers can promote more whole brain thinking, bringing logic and intuition more together among other things.
We will know that this sort of understanding of the brain is becoming really mainstream when we start hearing country radio tunes with lyrics like this:
“My left brain done left you, don’t want you no more,
But my right brain still loves you, can’t walk out that door
I’m left with a left brain that has left you behind
But darlin, I can’t quit you when I’m in my right mind”
Well, anyhow, even if you think this is all a bunch of nonsense, I hope you find it amusing.