That's because these practices are so novel in this context, that participants don't have any reference points in how to articulate their experiences, and what experiences are useful. Recognising this, I shall devote some part of the next Solares to the framing of feedback responses, so that I can help them better.
The other challenge is that of the pacing of delivery. As a person already proficient in the skills being developed, I can observe the external signs of competence but cannot reliably gauge the qualitative level of internalisation. My instinct is to give them more time for practice, which is in tension with my ethos of having a high 'Teachers Expectation Factor' so that participants benefit from the Rosenthal Effect.
Again this is something I will have to articulate at the next session. I think everyone is far enough adapted to the format to be able to provide a contextually considered response.
Back-beat components of the güiro rhythm
So the session developed, after a recap warm-up, with the use of the shaker playing double-beats on the backbeat i.e. on beats 2,2+ and 4,4+.
The fundamental rationale was that these beats were a literal interpretation of a compnentnt of a basic rhythm played on the güiro (gourd scraper). I contextualised this with a demonstration on the güiro, and participants synchronised their shaker tones with the backbeat strokes.
I also gave them the traditional vocalisation of the güiro rhythm as:
"aeowh-chik-chik, aeowh-chik-chik..."where: "aeowh" intiates on beats 1 and 3 and lasts the entire quarter note; and "chik-chik" initiates on beats 2,2+ and 4,4+.
A key improvement to their articulation on shaker was to draw attention to their over-use of the top of the shaker shell; the tonal strikes for the top and bottom of the bead enclosure were roughly equal in number and volume. I expressed a desire for a greater contrast: using the bottom of the shell, and hardly any strikes on the top of the shell. They got the idea and cleaned up their articulation after just two songs worth of practice, allowing them to engage with higher tempo music.
Introduction to the concept of rhythm surfaces
The same rhythm was played, but instead the shaker moving in free space, it was played into the horizontal palm of the opposing hand. This gave the sound: a sharper initial envelope (shaker shell onto skin); and, a longer tail (uncontrolled impact of beads all over the interior of the shell). One rhythm, two very different voices.
Back-beat components of the campana rhythm
The introduction to 'rhythm surfaces' segment served as a bridge to exercises using the campana rhythm, which is idential to that interpreted on the güiro. The salient difference is the envelope of the tones, which has a profound impact on: how the rhythm is perceived, and the instrumentalist's relationship with other musicians.
I demonstrated the complete bongó bell rhythm, where participants synchronised their shaker tones with the backbeat strokes. I did not provide the vocalisation. Participants seemed quite taken with the güiro vocalisation, and I was loathe to distract them from their fun.
Participants found that:
- they could get into a state of entrainment sooner because of their level of practice. I indicated that the objective was to be able to slip into entrainment within the opening seconds of a song.
- the güiro rhythm initially diffused the backbeat modulation on their dance rhythm. When asked whether this was still the case after sustained practice, the answer came back as a 'no'. This indicated that they'd made a snap judgement, before sufficient proficiency had been gained. The take-home learning point was "keep practicing the rhythm until it grooves".
- in some cases, they were beginning to synchronise the movements of different parts of their bodies to different instruments. (This was very good news to me, for research purposes!)
- what a difference a single beat made to the feel of a rhythm - the comparison was made between the tumbao moderno and the güiro rhythm;
- that attention needed to be paid in the quality of their practice, as demonstrated in the shaker technique;
- changes in playing surface have a profound impact on the way a rhythm is perceived; and,
- that they had an additional two instruments to which they could synchronise their embodiment rhythm.