The Rhythm is Gonna Get You

There is a training scale in classical horse training through which all well-prepared horses are taken to unlock their full potential. The scale is often depicted in the form of a pyramid, beginning at the base with rhythm and culminating at the top with collection. In between are suppleness, contact, impulsion, and straightness, in that order.

In horse training, rhythm is the result of mental and physical relaxation. Rhythm is compromised when there is tension, so the first point of order when training a horse is to work in a way that discourages tension and encourages relaxation. Few things relax a horse more than a rider who is deeply relaxed himself.

When a horse is sufficiently relaxed he will walk in the natural rhythm of the four natural gaits: walk (4 beats), trot (2 beats), canter (3 beats) and rein-back (2 beats). The goal when working to establish rhythm is to not only establish a definite 4, 3 or 2 beat gait but to also maintain a steady tempo.

On a similar note, my eldest son and I are studying violin and cello, respectively. We’re learning the importance of rhythm in music and just like with the horses, rhythm comes much more easily when the musician is relaxed. A metronome may help train the perception of rhythm but at a certain point you must relax into the rhythm. You know you’re sufficiently relaxed when you can anticipate the rhythm.

Rhythm, in this sense, is both a matter of the mind and the heart. You can “get” the rhythm to a certain degree, but in another sense you have to let the rhythm get you. Gloria Estefan was right!

 

 

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6 Responses to The Rhythm is Gonna Get You

  1. Carmen says:

    All things have a naturally ingrained rhythm no matter what they are, from the tinyest life form on this plantet, to the greatest part of the universe. It is when we no longer allow the rhythm to be played as it was intended, that the innert balance no longer can exist. Mankind has continuously changed this cadence often leading to disasterous results. When it would only take a brief stepping back with open eyes and open hearts to see and understand the deeper harmony of all, allowing ourselves to flow with and not against this rhythm. These same ideals would apply to riding the horse, or living ones Life.

  2. Ricardo B. says:

    As a drummer, this is a lesson I am still learning when learning to execute new patterns as the tendency is to tense up. It really is such a beautiful feeling when you ate loose enough to let the rhythm “get you” because it feels like it is carrying you like a river in its stream. You can float in it and relax even more. You don’t have to be so conscious of the tempo at that point for it has become part of you as you then are free to contribute your own unique accents and explore the beautiful world of song.

    A major revelation to me has been to see that these musical concepts have application to other areas of your life. So, it must be a principle!

  3. Kierney says:

    I am learning to play an instrument and have found that this is true. I was also recently thinking how when you learn to relax into the rhythm of learning, it allows what you’ve learned to become more or less subconscious, which makes room for learning something new, which then becomes second nature and the cycle continues, which then increases your knowledge and skill exponentially.

  4. MMc says:

    In my experience there is a natural cadence to everything. Finding the one for that moment takes getting past the unnatural tensions that can come up. Music is a beautiful medium to experience mastery in a at any age. Bravo for involving your son in something that offers a continual opportunity for many life changing experiences such as diligence, passion, patience and accomplishment. Sounds fun too!

  5. Steve Ventola says:

    Let the rhythms of life get all of us. Thanks for your words.

  6. Zach says:

    Understanding rhythm is part of the path to mastery of any subject, just as understanding life’s rhythm is crucial to mastering life as a whole. While some people have a better ability to parse musical rhythm than others, everyone has the ability to understand life’s rhythms in their own particular way. While it may not look the same for each person, it is available to everyone.

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