Teaching at Jam Sessions

What rhythms are practical for teaching at jam sessions?


People learn more by experience in a jam session. Teaching methods used in the classroom take more patience and lack of interruption. In a jam session, it is usually desired that the energy level be kept quite high and that rhythms flow from one to the next.


Obviously, the less time it takes to teach a new rhythm, the less interruption there will be to the flow and all the players can maintain a high state of drumming.


The primary characteristics of such rhythms is their simplicity. Of course, when you take away their complexities, many rhythms become the same. Therefore, the simple rhythms chosen for introduction in jam sessions must have different distinctive base melodies, and/or timings (meters or polymeters).


Fortunately, these simple rhythms (known as prime rhythms) are also the world's most honored. They can be very distinctive and direct. For example, a 5 pointed star is more recongizable than a 19 pointed one. An equal triangle is more "triangle like" than an unequal one.


Most of the world's best, most distinctive prime rhythms are simple and direct in structure, very easy to play and can be learned in less than 30 seconds.



95% of the world's drum rhythms are made up primarily of two sections.


1. A base section; rhythms or combinations of rhythms that produce a clear distinctive pattern know as a footprint pattern or the melody. The notes of the melody are made up of tones or combinations of tones that stand out. The number of tones in the base pattern that make up the melody could be as few as 1 or very many. This pattern usually repeats with little change.


2. Lead accompaniment; this is added to the base to produce variety. It always has some relationship to the tones in the base melody. The relationship could involve many different rhythmic concepts and some may be very complex. Or the relationship may be very simple. Also, the number of tones in the base pattern that the lead relates to could be as few as 1, or very many.


Cosmologists, physicists, mathematicians and others whose discipline involves the search for universal truths use the theory that all real truths are simple and elegant. They call this theory "beauty".


For instance; the single note classic rhumba is more "rhumba like" than the tres dos double columbia rhumba. The simple Abacua is more direct and clean than the rezo Abacua. The Double Calypso is more excitiong than any kind of Samba. Each pair of the compared rhythms give above have the same type of sound and structure, but the simpler ones are clearer, more distinctive and direct and can be learned very quickly.


Jim's Notes: A Course in Drumming