University of Cambridge > > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > Performing Social and Classroom Integration Through Musical Rhythm: Theory, Practice and Improvisation

Performing Social and Classroom Integration Through Musical Rhythm: Theory, Practice and Improvisation

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Rhythm is usually considered one of the most, if not the most, important parameter of music – deeply rooted in our physiology and cognitive system. Research studies have shown that from an early age children perceptually relate to rhythmic structures attempting to imitate them. Considering then the natural connection between rhythm and humans, it will be presented a set of rhythm exercises and improvisation patterns that can foster concepts of individuality, group integration, and creativity. Within a group (musicians or non-musicians) consisting of individuals from different cultural and social backgrounds, the performance and awareness of rhythm synchronicity and improvisation is a factor that leads to group integration. By reflecting issues of human interaction, rhythmic adjustments and responses are a fertile ground for deriving general lessons about group integration. By fostering and practicing rhythm improvisation, participants in the exercises are be able to find their own individuality and creativity without losing their awareness of the group. Moreover, rhythm improvisation within a particular form can be used as a factor for developing sensible leadership through building individual attention to the group dynamics. Therefore, the proposed rhythm exercises are a universal language that can be used through many contexts and educational stages, promoting at the same time individuality and social integration. This presentation will conclude with the description of a case-study in which the exercises were put into practice. It will be reported a two-session rhythm workshop in which newly arrived international students of the St. Mary’s College of California performed and improvised through the lenses of the proposed exercises. These sessions took place within the activities of the international students welcome week as a means to promote college integration. It will be observed and assessed how the performance of the exercises fostered group integration, attention, as well as group work for the development of individuality.


Eduardo Lopes studied drum set and classical percussion at the Rotterdams Conservatorium (Netherlands). Holds a Bachelor of Music Degree (Summa Cum Laude) from the Berklee College of Music (USA), and was awarded a PhD in Music Theory from the University of Southampton (UK). As a drummer he has performed in several countries such as: Portugal, Spain, UK, France, Holland, Brazil, Japan, and USA . He performs regularly with the most relevant Portuguese jazz musicians, and has performed with international artists such as Mike Mainieri, Myra Melford, Phil Wilson, Kevin Robb, Dave Samuels and Bruce Saunders. His research interests are: rhythm and meter theory; performance practice; jazz studies, and music education. He currently lectures at the Music Department of the University of Évora – Portugal, where he is also the Head of the Department.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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