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Krylyn Peters Sep 30, 2010

Give Me a Beat…

I’ve been singing so long about so many things, I don’t even realize it anymore. I can sing about the everyday mundane tasks like brushing my teeth, going grocery shopping, being stuck in traffic, or feeding my cats, to the bigger stuff like relationships, challenges, and mental illness. Inspiration strikes anywhere and everywhere. But I have found one common element that is usually present when the words start flowing. Rhythm.

Rhythm is a bit tricky to define, but the definition I like best is: regular, repetitive motion or sound. You might “get in the rhythm” of a certain task so that you don’t even have to think about what you are doing anymore because it becomes second nature. Or “get in synch with the rhythm” of others, such as when you join an existing team that is already working well together. When we work with clients, we may find there is a certain rhythm to our sessions, or a particular session. There’s a flow that is difficult to pinpoint, but it just feels easy and effortless.

In music, rhythm provides the backdrop, the beat. It’s the drums, percussion, and bass line. It’s the timekeeper and taskmaster, but is also provides the structure to allow inspiration to flow. And, it’s everywhere – the ticking of a clock or car turn signal, the dribbling of a basketball, the drip of a faucet, the clacking of high heels on a floor, etc.

I have many techniques for demonstrating the power of rhythm with a group (clients or workshop participants). Here’s just one:

1.Set out various “instruments” and ask everyone to choose one
2.Begin playing a rhythm
3.Invite group members to play along with your rhythm

When everyone joins in you will notice some people play louder than others, some softer, some play a different rhythm, some look around the room to see if they’re doing it “right.” It usually sounds clumsy and out of synch at first. But then, you will notice a shift. People start playing the rhythm together, in synch, around the same volume, and there is a definite energy that I call “collective rhythm.” Then after a few minutes, the energy starts to slow down and eventually just fades naturally into silence.

This activity, and others that I use in my practice, always amazes me in how both simple and profound it is. Aside from just playing a rhythm, it provides such rich lessons in teamwork, creativity, vulnerability, and fun!

Krylyn Peters is a counselor and singer/songwriter who uses the power of music and sound for healing.

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