Shelayne R., Utah
Help me with teaching more complex rhythm. I’ve listened to the Reading Rhythm program multiple times but I feel like I’m missing something. With The Mirron, for example, there’s a lot of rhythm going on. The way I am used to figuring it out is by counting “1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +” but I know we’re not supposed to do the counting with Simply Music. So when helping a student figure it out are you just saying “Left, Right”s? How do you dial up the speed – cut out saying Rights? How do you keep track of half and longer notes without counting it out? Thank you!
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
Hey Shelayne! Couple things:
You do not have to approach this solely from a reading-based perspective. Use playing-based clues. Use the recording to help students get a sense of the rhythm. Have them play RH melody only along with the audio. Then reverse-engineer onto the page.
Also, it’s not necessarily true that we’re not supposed to use counting in SM. We don’t start that way, but when you get to more complex rhythms, I find it helps many students quite a bit. As long as they have a strong foundation in rhythm and understand the relationship between the basic rhythms, counting using 1+2+3+4+ can be very useful. In fact I just recently had a student pencil in that counting on the 2nd page of The Mirron because he was struggling with the rhythm. After doing so, he totally nailed it.
Ian B., California
“Left, Right” are just words. So are “One and two and three and four and”. Once we understand the RELATIVE speed relationships between all the rhythms, you can voice the rhythm any way you like. In the MOR exercises, for example, Neil does not say “Left, Right” anymore and just uses the syllable “bom bom…”
Gordon Harvey, Australia
I agree with Laurie Richards that it’s not necessary to learn this piece via the page. Often I find myself teaching this piece before the student has had a lot of experience with ties, and given that the important learning in the Jazz Clues pieces is to do with the LH, I don’t want to get bogged down in the reading of the RH – it can create an association with struggle that is the opposite of how the Jazz Clues program ought to be experienced.
But if you do choose to teach pieces like this from the page (oh and you can always do a hybrid, such as picking out a few choice measures for reading experience while teaching the bulk of the piece PB), there are certainly various ways it can be done. I don’t use counting for this because it’s new to my students – they haven’t used counting in the Reading Rhythm program.
Throughout the Reading Rhythm program, I have had students maintaining the LRLR 1/8th note foot tapping and using that as an aural and tactile grid to fit each event into. I would choose a suitable amount to process (a measure, phrase, or part thereof) and typically start by tapping feet and voicing *without* the ties. Once that’s confident, they will add the ties. Because the foot tapping is our reference, it’s easy if necessary to control the events (“the first two notes go with a R, the next event goes for a LRLR, the tied note is LRL, the last note is LRLRLR”).
We then simply speed up until the student feels or hears the phrase – voicing the rhythm is key to this process. Once the penny has dropped it is pretty much learned forever.
All this may sound more complicated than it is. And it’s a good reminder that CTE will always be your best friend.
Un Mani, Australia
Gordon Harvey Laurie Richards and anyone else..would you apply the same wisdom to addressing RH of High Five? And Latin? or would there be tweaks?
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
Un Mani it really depends upon the student’s needs and grasp of concepts. Another factor is when Jazz Clues is introduced in relation to the reading programs.
Bottom line, although it’s not a specific answer (OMG I’m becoming sufficiently vague like Neil), use whatever concepts the student already knows to maximize success. Layer in new concepts (e.g. counting 1+2+3+4+) in isolation so it can be cleanly layered in.
Gordon Harvey, Australia
Un Mani Yes I might certainly use the same basic approach for both of those pieces. Here’s a shortcut for High Five: you will discover that the rhythm of High Five can, for the most part, be reduced to two basic phrases: “Humpty” and “and-a-Humpty”. “Humpty” occurs whenever you have a 1/4 note followed by an 1/8 note, for example the first two notes in measure 5. The 1/8 note can be tied to another note and the feel is unchanged, for example the next two notes in measure 5. The length of the last note is rarely an issue – the timing of the LH helps with that. “And-a-Humpty” is “Humpty” preceded by two 1/8 notes, such as in measure 2. The student can do some detective work to identify all of those instances and they will have around half of the piece handled. They should be able to join them up where possible, such as measure 4 & 5 which become “and-a-Humpty Dumpty Humpty Dumpty”. For the parts which don’t use these phrases, you can either just show them, have them listen to a recording or use a little tapping and voicing or whatever reading tools you prefer. The most important thing is the Humpty (swing) feel. I find that if the student grasps this (which they almost always do right away) it all unfolds pretty naturally, with perhaps the occasional little wrinkle to iron out.
Leeanne I., Australia
Jazz is a feeling. Yes, use the page as a Reading Rhythm exercise, then let it go. Listen to the audio track and sing along. In my experience, listening to jazz A LOT is what will help you play jazz.
It’s a lovely singable tune so learnable without necessarily having to work out the rhythm.
Nancy N., Massachusetts
I agree that listening and feeling are important in learning Jazz rhythm. (I’ve spent many years singing with church choir people who are terrible at syncopated rhythm because they can’t read well AND they’ve lost the ability to listen!) I agree that counting helps some, but watch out: it adds an extra thought process to keep track of numbers (or different syllables) I believe that’s why Neil uses bum bum
Original discussion stated May 13, 2020