Fearless Books

Featured Title: You've Got Rhythm: read music better by feeling the beat

Here is an unusual approach to music teaching. This book does not teach how to play an instrument or read notes on staff. Instead it focuses on teaching the reader how to feel the rhythm in words and music. Using a simple yet creative system of a SLAP of the legs on the downbeat, a CLAP of the hands on the upbeat, and a TAP of the fingers on the weak beat (or offbeat), the authors show us how to find “that irresistible momentum that jazz musicians call ‘groove’ ” in a diverse variety of meters. The first exercises are with quarter notes, half notes, and rests; then the book moves into progressively more complicated metric progressions such as syncopation, compound meter, tuplets, double dots, shifting meters, and irregular meters. Some of the songs and chants used here are original compositions by the authors; most are rhythmical adaptations of classic passages by writers like George Santayana, Frank Baum, Henry Thoreau, and Mark Twain.

Authors Anna Dembska and Joan Harkness both have decades of music teaching, writing, performing, and arranging behind them, and their love of music is infectious. As you learn to read rhythms, you can feel the fun in the music as you read. Although this book is recommended for children 9 and up, it may prove a bit challenging for children to learn from on their own. Rather, it seems best suited to adults, especially those who teach children. Teachers can easily adapt this superb and delightful resource for classroom purposes.

— M. POLONSKY 5/02

book with optional CD set