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Body Beats – A Book for "Now"

Body percussionist and Body Beats Author Ollie Tunmer discusses the benefits of his method in today’s music education landscape

When Body Beats was launched at the Music and Drama Education EXPO in March 2020, no one could have foreseen just how much things would change due to Covid-19. Following the initiation of lockdown, I delivered three weeks of daily YouTube body percussion sessions. It was important to offer people some fun, physical, and creative activity during a very uncertain time. The sessions were even featured on BBC’s “The One Show,” alongside Joe Wicks and Lizzo!

During that time and since, body percussion has evolved into a key element of music curricula. Alongside the musical benefits, it is used as a platform for the promotion of physical and mental well-being, especially as a means towards greater self-expression (of students, educators, and musicians alike). Body Beats was written with these principles at the core; as a resource to allow engaging access to this art-form for musicians, dancers, educators, and anyone interested in rhythm.
There are a number of reasons why I love body percussion:
– You can do it anywhere.
– You are the instrument.
– You can communicate and bond through with anyone on earth through it.
– You can make a great sound immediately. (But, as with anything, it takes dedication to get really good.)
– It’s fun and it makes you feel good!
Body Beats is full of ideas developed over 20 years of performance and workshop delivery. It includes concepts inspired by my time as a performer in STOMP, my love of Afro-Brazilian percussion, content developed through my collaborations with literacy specialist Pie Corbett of Talk4 Writing, and ideas based on Anna Meredith’s “Connect It” and Bernstein’s “Mambo” from BBC’s “Ten Pieces.”
Body Beats is a dynamic and flexible resource. It can be followed chronologically from cover-to- cover (over a long term, a broad technical range is explored). However, you can also navigate the book in a non-linear route, implementing and adapting the ideas as required for your own learning and/or teaching needs.
There are video examples of every rhythm, allowing you to either master and teach them yourself, or play the videos of me on your whiteboard or screen and learn with your students.
There are also rhythm grids of each rhythm, a specialised notation system that was specifically developed for the book. The rhythm grids themselves show the relevant subdivisions of bars, with pulse beats highlighted. In addition, we have created one symbol for each sound-type, colour- coded for different areas of the body. Blue symbols are hand sounds, foot sounds are red, and so on.

This combination of videos and rhythm grids allows those without knowledge of western classical notation to access the material. Writing polyrhythms in grids also clearly shows where beats link together and syncopate off one another. I hope that it also provides a useful example of alternative notation for students, and a means to notate their own compositions.
Download rhythm grid and notation examples here:
Rhythm Grids
Polyrhythmic Grid 1
Polyrhythmic Grid 2
Polyrhythmic Grid 3
Sounds Symbols
For all news, online, and in-person workshop and CPD enquiries please visit www.beatgoeson.co.uk and follow @BeatGoesOnUK



Body Beats: An Easy and Fun Guide to the Art of Body Percussion

Immerse yourself in the world of Body Percussion with this fun and engaging resource from Beat Goes On founder Ollie Tunmer. Build confidence, develop coordination, boost your well-being and have loads of fun with this collection of individual and group-based exercises. This book is enhanced with video tutorials to guide you step-by-step through each exercise.
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