As a non-saxophone player, I was lucky enough to attend the BEAT IT workshop withon Sunday 1st March 2020 organised by Sax Bandits. The workshop was designed to increase rhythmic skills, vocabulary, timing and ‘groove’ as well as percussion skills.
There was a slight sense of nervousness in the air as none of us really knew what to expect. However, Paul soon put us at ease starting with some clapping rhythm exercises. We played a game whereby hand claps were exchanged with one’s neighbour; this became really interesting and hilarious when the claps had to be exchanged with the next-but-one neighbour! We weren’t successful in completing the circle, but it certainly broke the ice.
Most people have a natural rhythm, it’s about controlling that rhythm and keeping time accurately.
Paul demonstrated that it’s about working in harmony with others to maintain our natural rhythm. As far as I could see everyone kept up, even when Paul introduced the. This page showed us myriad different rhythm patterns and timing beats, using crotchets, quavers and semi-quavers which helped to build confidence in keeping, and understanding of beat and rhythm.
In the second half of the workshop, Paul laid out various percussion instruments and allowed us to choose our favourite. I must confess I was nervous as I’d never beaten a drum in my life, so I went for the maracas, nice and easy, I thought. Paul gave us various rhythmic patterns and soon had us all beating together creating a fascinating, rhythmic ‘tune.’ The smaller drums were given the pattern which followed the ‘have you got a dog, a great big dog’ mantra which stayed with most of us long after the session was over!
Paul’s control of the participants, some of whom had barely hit anything with a stick before, let alone shaken the hell out of something, was immaculate. He had us stopping and starting at random, stopping for a given number of beats, restarting sometimes on the off-beat. He encouraged everyone to communicate with their neighbour as well as him.
The workshop was well paced and great fun! As a vocalist and wife to a member of Sax Bandits, it was incredibly useful to understand how the beats on a score work and how they translate into audible music. I especially liked the lights that Paul had on his own drum – a man after my own heart!