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I went to a zill (finger cymbal) workshop last night. The problem is--zills are loud. Really, really loud. So even though there were only seven people in the class plus the teacher, if we were trying to follow her, it was impossible to hear what she was doing. Sometimes she'd try to demonstrate different possible patterns, but as soon as other people tried to copy here pffffft. I ended up staring at her fingers to figure them out, cause I couldn't hear them.

She had us try things by ourselves a lot, which was the only way to tell what we were doing. And--I have finally found something in belly dance I'm a natural at! There is a woman who is at the studio every single time I go, who must spend hundreds of dollars there every week, cause she takes two or three classes every day, plus private lessons. And this was the first time she was at a complete loss.

I'm going to pat myself on the back a bit here--I was the only person able to replicate the teacher's patterns exactly. I attribute this to the fact that, when I sight sing, I tap out the meter on my fingers and thumb. I've been doing it for years, so I don't have to think about it--it's a way of partitioning out keeping count of the beat, so if I see that a note is on beat three, I can wait till my fingers get to that beat without having to count numbers in my head. It took me a while to be able to do that, but it comes in handy on zills, it turns out.

When other people went, there were at least three people with no concept of the beat at all. The teacher was saying, if you get lost, don't try anything complicated, just hit the one. And these people clearly had no idea where the downbeat was. One of them kept beating the two, which I'm guessing means she's used to rock music (which is all two-four). Two of them--no relation at all to the music. So when we were all going together, three people not finding the beat...it was kind of chaos.

My trouble, though, was that she was having us do "simple movements" while practicing the zills, to get us used to multi-tasking. Like pivot turns. Which I can't do, full stop. So I can do the zills fine, and then I crash into the mirror. I could stand over by the percussion and play the zills, but that's not really the point of this exercise.

The teacher suggested putting baby socks over the zills when we practice at home to muffle the sound so our neighbors don't kill us. I think I'm going to have to do that. A lot.

(Also, you have to have the elastic on the zills on really tight so they don't fall off as you wave your arms around. So taking them off after an hour of practicing...about as much fun as you'd think.)

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July 2017

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