People proudly proclaim they haven’t got a rhythmic bone in their body. They’re tone deaf as well. Their music teachers told them when they were nine so that’s it. End of.
But we’re surrounded by rhythm. We speak in it, we read in it, we walk in it, we talk in it. So when we’re teaching rhythm, be it playing drums or songwriting, we start with everyday stuff like newspapers. For example – THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY has a great rhythm to it when repeated. Do try it “THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY, THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY, THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY”.
One of the advantages of this approach is no-one expects it to be perfect, you’re just playing around trying stuff. Perfectionism is OK when you’re building a lunar docking module, but it can get in the way when you’re trying something new on earth.
In fact we often just sing the phrases in our heads and play the rhythms of the words on the drums, it’s safer that way and actually it makes us all sound far cleverer than we are. Because if you divide a drum group into three with ten people playing THE SUNDAY MIRROR, another ten banging out THE SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE and the rest of the group locking down THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY you soon sound like a percussion band rehearsing for a West End show. With an eye on Broadway.