Submitted by Judith Cook Tucker, Publisher
World Music Press (ASCAP), Danbury, Connecticut

Idea posted May 11, 2004

Here is how they do authentic shekere rhythms in Ghana:

Start with just a steady 4/4, feeling only quarter notes.
To begin with, just gently keep a moderate beat on one knee to get the feel of controlling the sound of the seeds. Hold the axatse or shekere in the right hand, tap on the right or left knee.
1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4
Each tap on the knee is called "pa," so pa-pa-pa-pa/pa-pa-pa-pa
Play and say this for a while. You can also just hold the axatse in the right hand and pull the braided end of the netting with the left to produce the same rhythm with a little different sound.
Keeping in four:
On the lap is "pa"
"ti" (tee) is tapping gently on the top of the gourd/netting with the left hand while you raise it a few inches in the air with the right.
1 - 2 - 3 - 4
pa, ti, pa, rest / pa, ti, pa, rest (On the rest, you can swing the right hand a bit in a small scooping motion.)
pa-rest-pa-ti/ pa-rest-pa-ti
1-2-3-4 or feel it as a phrase containing eighths 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
Do each rhythm many times and get into the groove. Do the rhythm to a CD of music from Ghana.
NEXT (more advanced)
pa - pa-ti-pa-ti-pa-ti-pa/pa - pa-ti-pa-ti-pa-ti-pa
down, down-up-down-up-down-up-down/down, down-up-down-up-down-up-down
1-ee-and-a 2 and 3 and 4 and/1-ee-and-a 2 and 3 and 4 and

In all cases, to practice without music, you should play the "timeline" on a double iron gong (gankogui): low, high high high/low, high high high to keep everyone oriented to "one."

Gradually speed up the tempo.

There are other patterns that are more complicated, or you can do pa-rest-pa-ti/pa-rest-pa-ti twice as fast.