By Bridget Roberts with Sarah Berry
Each year CMVic budgets for a day when all the workers, paid and unpaid, are invited to get together and do something as a team. This year we gathered at the Body Voice Centre in Footscray and had an introduction to TaKeTiNa. Ever heard of it? I hadn’t. TaKeTiNa (the name translates as 1-2-3-4) is a worldwide practice of teaching rhythm and learning from the teaching of rhythm that draws on multiple traditions: it appears simple, but it is both mentally and physically challenging. It is also a lot of fun!
Okay, so we sat in a circle and learned a basic body and voice rhythm. We’re all musicians of one stripe or another, I thought, so what will this add to what, for us, is ‘business as usual’ – relaxing into a groove, listening to each other, treating variations kindly, and so on?
Then the leader (Tania Bosak) made things harder and harder, so that we made mistakes, sometimes having to drop out and recover before joining back in. At times we were all gently taken back to a basic groove for a while, before heading off on another challenge. This went on for two and a half hours, with short rests and one short reflective conversation. Looking back at the morning over a shared lunch, the group talked about the experience of confusion or frustration arising from the desire to ‘get it right’ on the one hand, through to letting go and a sense of ‘flow’ on the other; of being able to return to our centre when confused; of sometimes finding more space in the mind.
It was important to be challenged and sometimes to fail in this safe space. Without the right level of challenge there couldn’t be that sense of delight in finding the flow.
There were lessons too about the distinct processes of learning and performing. For instance, even a ‘business as usual’ step-clap and call-and-response sequence hides many levels of complexity; levels that can be broken down into the smallest learning blocks and held up for examination and experimentation. At the same time, while we work in a circle – becoming the audience for one another – we are confronted with our own changing levels of self-awareness and group-awareness. For instance, of trouble-spots, of how we judge these moments, and of how we can persist through these moments and re-join the flow.
As leaders, in music or elsewhere, it was good to be reminded of how our group members feel when we lead them into new experiences. How they need us to challenge them but also walk alongside them with good humour. And how it’s okay to give participants permission to step out of the practice if they’re overwhelmed, and to shake it all out before coming back in.
See www.taketina.com for lots more about the aims and methods.