How to Practice Speaking of Rhythm Vol. One through Six
Connect the Syllables to Drum Strokes
In these lessons "waka" is used only on the non-favored hand (left, for most of us)
If you need to review the hand positions and sounds on your drum, click here.
Do this many times - you're learning a kenestic language - connecting your voice and your body.
Speak Drum Language - Make Sentences:
Know that throughout the world, there is a long history of drummers who have transmitted rhythm and music via the voice. From ancient Africa, India, and Persia to modern beatboxing, the voice is the key. Drumming IS a language.
Orient Yourself - Syllables with the Pulse:
Make a Sentence with your Hands
Say the Sentence On the drum:
For a good challenge, count the four pulse while you play the pattern on the drum.
The next step is the most challenging and rewarding part of this lesson:
Repeatedly listen to my example to sense which syllable or space in the rhythm connects with clave. You may need to go slowly, when adding the clave strokes.
Learn to be conscious of how these parts align. When the syllables and clave are firmly in your body and mind, it will be easy to go faster. Remember: "The slower you play the faster you learn".
If you need help learning the Clave pattern we use in this lesson, please check out
As you play the pattern on your drum, feel how it interacts with clave strokes and spaces. This will help you bring the pattern alive and give you a foundation for improvisation and solo work.
Use the grooves on my “Clave Consciousness vol 1” CD to practice each part with clave.
For extra credit, Speak clave while you play the pattern on your drum.
Stuck in traffic?
Pulse, Clave, Rhythm!
Compare and Contrast the Parts
A good process for developing your solo ability is what I call "Basic / Variation". Play 4 cycles of a pattern, then 4 cycles of variations on that pattern. Then 2 and 2. Then 1 cycle of each. Then, finally, keep the basic pattern in your body/mind while you make variations.
Try quoting (i.e. playing) other parts of the rhythm, then alter them (reverse the tone and the slap, fill them in, leave things out etc.).