What Is Rhythm Mind?

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Rhythm Mind is a method of focusing attention by intently listening to the rhythms of music and engaging with them using drum sticks and a silent rubber pad. It requires no musical experience or desire to become a musician. The practice can be a daily meditation or an occasional fun diversion. It can be done in a small area; it doesn’t require the purchase of an expensive instrument; and it will not disturb the neighbors.

Rhythm Mind inhabits the space of “flow,” where one is pleasurably challenged and invited to lose track of time in a creative, absorbing activity. Paradoxically, one loses track of time by becoming deeply focused on patterned movements in time. Rhythm Mind offers the joy of drumming to people who are not, or don’t want to be, “drummers.” It is therefore different from “learning an instrument.” As a side-effect, though, one will learn how to drum with sticks, and any of the techniques learned from Rhythm Mind are transferable to a drum set, or any drum played with sticks.

Rhythm Mind begins in an upright, seated posture with a rubber pad on an adjustable stand raised to a height appropriate for the player’s physical size. One sits on an height-adjustable round stool (drum throne) so that the legs and feet can create a relaxed, grounded base from which to move the limbs. The optimal posture is dynamically centered and balanced, with the hands free to play stick patterns and the feet free to tap along in time. Maintaining this balanced posture invites awareness and control of core muscles. An awareness of the breath and of one’s thoughts (or lack of thought) while playing is also encouraged.

The goal of finding physical and mental balance is echoed in the balancing of the drum sticks and the control of their return bounce (rebound) from the pad’s springy surface. Propelling the sticks and responding to their rebound is a physical collaboration between the player, the sticks, and the pad. The upright posture of Rhythm Mind intentionally parallels the practice of sitting meditation, from Soto Zen Buddhism, one of the inspirations for Rhythm Mind. A non-theistic, experience-based philosophy–not a religion requiring faith–Zen offers an opportunity to observe and control conscious awareness.

In addition to the physical awareness of sitting and breathing, arms, wrists, hands, and fingers learn to make the sticks dance in patterns around the surface of the pad. One practices the simple movements required for each successful stroke until “effortless mastery” is achieved. One learns to play single and double-strokes with each hand and to intertwine them at various speeds and volumes. The variations are infinite and endlessly entrancing. The technical details required to do Rhythm Mind are minimal and uncomplicated. From simple elements one builds a practice that benefits the mind, emotions, and body.

Consciousness becomes focused on the articulation of the small movements needed to control the sticks. This hyperawareness of the body links up with the aural awareness and rhythmic feeling of the music one plays along with. At the same time, imagination and creativity make improvisational decisions about what patterns to play and what aspects of the practice on which to concentrate attention. These aspects include body feeling, focused listening to different aspects of the music, the movement of the breath, the creation of repeating beats and interlocking patterns, and so on. Each practice session, like each stroke, is unique and unrepeatable.

From a position of strength and focused awareness, one makes rhythms and sounds by playing the sticks on the surface of the pad. Entrainment and synchronization align the player with something beyond the self, a felt pulse, like the heartbeat, breathing, or waves. We become aware of the rhythms that surround us and that inhere in subjective and objective existence.

New Toy

Sonor Kit 4.22.17

 

Wasn’t expecting to buy this today, but Jennifer encouraged me, and the price was right. We were in Sam Ash in Sarasota, down the street from the new Rhythm Mind / Jennifer Lee Pilates studio, and I couldn’t resist. I’ve been wanting a cocktail kit since I had one briefly in 2007 when I played with Kris Doty and John McMahon. Meet the Sonor Martini in turquoise sparkle. It’s always a good day when you buy a new drum set!

New Location!

I’m excited to announce a new location for Rhythm Mind in Sarasota, Florida. Beginning April 10, I will be partnering with Jennifer Lee Pilates at The Atriums on US41, just west of the SRQ Airport. Only minutes from downtown and just down the road from Bradenton, our lovely new space is centrally located and easy to access.

I can accept only a very limited number of new clients at this time, so if you are interested in finding out what Rhythm Mind is and beginning this new, fun, and rewarding practice, please contact me at Rhythmmind1@gmail.com

Sessions are: 30 minutes ($30); 55 minutes ($50)

 

 

Rhythm Mind: It’s About Time

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Rhythm Mind is an active practice of focusing attention through music and rhythm. It isn’t “drum lessons” or a drum circle (though it includes small group classes). You learn how to use drum sticks on a silent rubber pad to play various kinds of rhythms along to music. You’ll learn to detect a beat and play along with it, and eventually, to improvise your own rhythms.

Rhythm Mind brings awareness into the body in the moment. Playing along with the pulse and patterns of a wide range of musical works sharpens sensory and mental perception. Engaging the body and mind in this concentrated way improves listening, agility, and reflexes.

Rhythm Mind sessions are now available in Sarasota, Florida, for individuals and small groups of up to four students. I will demonstrate the method, show you how to begin practicing it immediately, and help set you up to play at home, with the music of your own choosing.

Rhythm Mind is intended for adults who are looking for a way to stay fit, alert, and supple. Because it is not “music lessons” it is not intended for children. Rhythm Mind is especially recommended for those who always wanted to play drums but never got around to it. It’s about time!

 

 

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Just discovered this morning that last August what remains of the group called Rachel’s released an mp3 version of a limited edition CDR sold during a 2002 tour. There are 13 unreleased pieces here, which is a significant discovery for a long-time Rachel’s fan like me. This is the equivalent of finding a new Rachel’s album, which is very exciting. I also discovered this year that Rachel’s founding member Jason Noble died in 2012.

Online sources refer to “Significant Others” as a collection of “oddities,” though only a few of the tracks are truly “odd.” These seem to be works that might have been meant to be a part of something larger, but were never completed or never found a good home. Some were apparently experiments done for their own sake. Still, they flow naturally together, making for an engaging musical experience that begs to be repeated due to its lovely idiosyncrasy.

For those not familiar with Rachel’s . . . The group formed in Louisville in 1991 and released six albums between 1995 and 2003. I first encountered their 1996 album, “Music for Egon Schiele,” which remains for me probably their finest and most consistent collection of pieces. They’ve been described as “modern chamber” music, and there are certainly links to composers like Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Michael Nyman. But there is also a persistent use of electronics and the studio-as-an-instrument approach. This comes to the fore in their collaborative EP with Matmos, “Full On Night” (a split disc). In short, listen to the entirety of their output to understand what they were about. “Significant Others” is a good place to start.