We published a book!
After nearly two years of work, Samantha Steitz and I published our first book, the Rhythm Keeper. Many of the ideas for this book had been floating around in my head since high school, when I began serious study at improving my own understanding of rhythm and rhythm reading. Back then, I methodically took at least one lesson (in most cases many more) with nearly every drum and percussion teacher in the Portland area. The one recurring concept that the majority of these teachers drove home was the importance of counting and subdividing. I began to grasp the relationships between rhythms in a whole new way. Though counting and subdividing are hardly novel concepts, I came to discover that many of my non-percussionist peers in school and in my youth orchestra did not fully share in the acute understanding of rhythm that my teachers possessed.
I vividly recall a young woman in my high school, who once asked me for help in solidifying her own understanding of rhythm, and showed absolute astonishment and fascination with how easy reading rhythms could be when she simply counted and subdivided (she later went on to become a very successful professional french horn player). I let her borrow many of the various rhythm exercises that I had been working on with my teachers. Since these were materials written by drummers and usually only studied by drummers, she found that practicing the material off the instrument yielded fantastic results.
Fast-forward a few years, and I found myself assisting my partner, Samantha Steitz, who is an accomplished piano pedagogue, to create various rhythm handouts for her group theory classes. The handouts focused primarily on counting and clapping and on incorporating subdivision to the counting where appropriate. Imagine our mutual delight when, after a year or so of counting and clapping, all of her students showed dramatic improvements in their rhythm, which translated to much stronger conviction in their playing, improved self-confidence, and overall more solid performances. Samantha’s years of experience in music pedagogy, her knowledge of clear and logically sequential presentation of material, and her keen eye for design and beauty all came together with many of the rhythm concepts we wanted to explain, and out of that emerged the Rhythm Keeper.