Bembe, Track 2. Mid Drum Lesson
Lesson Length 4:40 min
In this lesson I teach you the main theme of Bembe, which is played on the middle pitch drum, the conga. First we learn it slowly by syllables which mimic the drum strokes, then we learn how it fits in time, then we play it on the drum using bass, tone, tip and slap strokes. This pattern is a 3 in the time of 2 cross rhythm and requires attention to not lose the main beat as you play a pattern of three hits and feel a pulse of two beats. This is one key to the “lock” of playing trance inducing cross rhythms – having the 3:2 polymeter completely grounded in your body. When that becomes easy, I show you how combine this part with Clave. This is the core of these music lessons; relating each drum part to the guideline Clave pattern.

Hi Life, Track 8. High Drum (quinto)
Lesson Length: 4:10 min
This is a lesson in one of the most important rhythms to learn on any instrument, if you want to play rhythmically based music. It is a common pattern in many different drum ensembles and is one of the first patterns children learn in West Africa. I teach it to you very slowly, then I show a way to help you hold it tighter, then we learn it faster so you can feel it at a moderate tempo. Learn to practice this every time a beat is established – by walking, car alarms, windshield wipers, any regular pulsation. This makes learning and embodying the rhythm fun. You will find this to be one of the most useful patterns to know for jamming.

Yan-Valu, Track 7. Hi Drum Lesson – Essential High Drum Lesson
Lesson Length 2:10 min
In this track I”ll teach you how the high drum works in Yan Valu. This is a tricky pattern for most people, it certainly was for me when I first learned it. It is simple technically, but how to enter the ensemble and maintain the pattern correctly it in the mix of other contrasting parts is a profound lesson.

Yan-Valu, Track 8. Hi Drum Lesson – Mastering the High Drum Inside The Key Rhythm
Lesson Length 4:19 min
This track is a master lesson in how the high drum part (which is common to many other ensembles) fits into the Clave pattern, the key pattern of Yan Valu and many other grooves. I take you through speaking the drum pattern and adding Clave hits one at a time, and then in reverse: clapping the Clave pattern and speaking the drum strokes in sets, one at a time. This is one of the most valuable music lessons I can offer you. It is not easy at first, but is incredibly valuable in establishing and solidifying your sense of time in the midst of complex cross rhythms. Once you learn how to clap and speak this combination, you can transfer it to two drums, two bells, bell and drum, marimba, or any combination on the drum set or timbales.

Djesse-Muloumbo, Track 7. High Drum Off beats with Clave Lesson
Lesson Length 5:25 min
This is a master lesson in three way coordination: the high drum offbeats together with the main beat and Clave. This lesson will help you stabilize your sense of musical time in the midst of seemingly contradictory rhythms. In the previous lesson you learned how to play the offbeat high part while keeping relaxed time. Now we will use that as a base and add the Clave. I build it up two different ways – first you speak the high drum and clap Clave hits one at at time, then we start again, and do another way: you clap Clave first and we add syllables one at a time with the voice to mimic the drum. If you”ve mastered how the the Clave pattern fits with the four pulse, it will be easy for you to do this exercise. If not, go back to my Clave Consciousness lessons. If this track is easy for you, try playing the offbeats with one hand, tapping the beat with your foot and tap Clave with the other hand. In this way, it can become a drum set groove.

... Kim breaks these rhythms down in every way possible and keeps your attention, while making listening and playing along to the different parts less like practice and more like fun.  He then builds the rhythms back up again in such a way that you get to hear every relationship between each of the parts played by the different instruments.  The best element in the series is his unique vocal adaptation of the different instruments played and sung in the rhythms. It is as entertaining as it is educational.

I thank Kim Atkinson for Sharing His Spirit with us in such a way that we can all become better players and facilitators
"I just wanted to thank you for actually caring to develop a simple yet enormously powerful teaching method that has transformed my music playing, listening and also speaking ability. Coincidentally, its also helped me run further without being as tired....I think its due me being able to feel and attend to each step I take more like a rhythm than a battle, and maybe it's because I've been stepping the pulse - when I practice speaking the rhythms - in an oval around my room"
"I really appreciate the way you have broken it down and shown how all the parts interweave.  It's a great way to get the whole rhythm into a non-left-brain part of my body." - Kathy
"I often teach my students that if you can "say it", you can "play it".  In his Speaking of Rhythm series, Kim takes this concept to the next level. Using spoken syllables and playing drums, each part is explored separately and then in every possible combination with each other, and against both the underlying pulse and Clave. These highly effective CDs accomplish what could only otherwise be done by having a multi-track recorder available for every class. (Except of course they are MUCH easier to use, and work in your car!)

Another extremely useful feature is that a different syllable is assigned not only to each different drum sound, but also to each hand making the sound. Thus, by learning to speak the rhythm, students also learn the proper "sticking" at the same time.

I enjoyed the arrangements so much that I even adopted the Afoxe rhythms for use with my Brazilian Bateria. We now play the same Afoxe patterns on Surdos, Repeniques, and Caixas."
"...the greatest benefit of your classes and CDs came to me as a salsa dancer, by improving my ability to hear and understand the Clave. ... this has made my enjoyment of salsa music and dancing that much better. Thank you again!"
"I've had some great fun and learning from Kim Atkinson's CD's. Bembe, Makuta, Nigerian Highlife and others are great sets of rhythms I was glad to add to my repertoire. It was helpful to really get inside clave rhythms too. Kim knows his stuff, makes it clear and accessible... and he rocks!"
WOW... Kim!! I spent about two hours enjoying and learning from your CD.. I was TRULY impressed with the format and success it gave me and will give others... YOU DID IT!

1) Connect the Syllables to Drum Strokes

Practice each drum stroke separately and speak the syllable as you hit the drum. Do this many times – you’re learning a kinesthetic language – connecting your voice and your hands.

If you need to review the syllables, hand positions and sounds on your drum, click here.

2) Speak Drum Language – Make Sentences:

Now learn the syllables for a drum pattern (for example, the tumba for Afoxé). Go slowly. Speak the sounds out loud and learn to say them effortlessly so they feel like a sentence.

3) Orient Yourself – Syllables with the Pulse:

Next, clap the pulse while speaking the syllables. This will show you how the drum part (via the syllables) relates to the main beat.

4) Make a Sentence with your Hands:

Now that you’ve learned a sentence in drum language map the vocal sounds to hand positions on the drum. (You can do this without a drum, but make sure you’re saying the syllables out-loud. You can practice this on a table, your body, anywhere).

5) Say the Sentence On the drum:

Say and play the drum rhythm. Notice that the drum is saying what the voice is saying and the voice is saying what the drum is playing.