Wood' s "The Dancing Cymbalist –
How to play music with finger cymbals and
dance at the same time."
Review by Yasmela
Woods uses this book to introduce the Nur Method of coordinated
finger cymbal practice. On the back of the book, under her
name, it states that she “…developed the original Nur Method
from over 30 years experience with finger cymbals as a Middle
Eastern dancer percussionist, combined with professional Aston-Patterning
training in the teaching and application of fluid biomechanics.”
off, let me clarify that I have been playing finger cymbals
since 1972, as a dancer, as a member of a Middle Eastern band,
and as a teacher.
was eager to review this book in hopes that it would be
a new tool to
help revive the dying art of
finger cymbal playing. Jenna Woods seems to share that
is a thorough book, beginning with an impressive list of acknowledgements,
and a glossary of terms. In the Introduction, Jenna Wood gives
us her personal background and explains how and why she
developed the Nur Method. The History of Zills is
entertaining and informative, offering some theories
about why cymbal
playing has gone into
decline, and how it used to be done. Chapter 1 is Zill Choices,
complete with glossary. Chapter 2, Getting the Most From Your
Zills, includes an exceptionally detailed section explaining
how to put on your zills. Included in these chapters is information
on body alignment, exercises to help you get used to the weight
of your zills, visualization techniques and suggestions, and
how to prepare for playing.
then moves into Understanding Musical Time, Chapter 3 and Learning
Rhythms, Chapter 4. Chapter 5, Voices of the Zills, is a lengthy
explanation of how to get different sounds from your zills. It
has sections on terminology and technique. Chapter 6 begins
the process of teaching us how to dance and play zills at the
same time and introduces the Nur Method.
the book there are italicized offerings in the margins
dancers and zill players who talk about their personal
experiences playing, dancing and learning. The book
is full of detailed charts and notations that are Ms.
Wood’s original method of
noting movement and rhythm.
I think of the book? If I was given this book and told that
after I read it and studied it I would know how to dance and
play finger cymbals, I would probably get to the first chart
and decide that I could get by without playing finger cymbals
at all. I learned finger cymbals from Jamila Salimpour, from
my very first dance lesson, and then played in a Middle Eastern
band for 10 years. I found her method both logical and simple,
involving repetition, practice and verbal/oral methods for
matching patterns to music while learning to dance at the same
time. I think finger cymbals are essential for dancers on
many different levels, even if they don’t end up using them. I
agree with Ms. Wood about why we should learn. I just found
this book overwhelmingly detailed and confusing and at the
first chart, my eyes glazed over and my brain went into the
same mode it does when confronted with anything beyond fractions
in math. I am not this kind of learner. I showed the book
to a friend who reads music, and she also found it rather confusing. It
is not standard musical notation, but an entirely new language
and while Ms. Wood refers to this in the introduction, I found
has not only to learn to play the zills and dance; one
must first learn
Ms. Wood’s language. Instead
of making the process of learning finger cymbals easier,
it looks to me as if she has made it more complicated.
is a lot of good information in this book that many dancers
will find useful if they are inclined to diligent study and
accustomed to learning music and dance from a book. I was
especially fascinated by her discussion of the way people hear
music and translate it in the section on timesense and timing
discrepancy. Since there are many diverse learning styles,
the Nur Method may appeal to people who want a very academic
study of finger cymbals and who are comfortable with a technical
style of learning. It is not a book for beginners but may
be more useful to people who want to expand their skills. It
may even encourage experienced dancers to take a second look
at using zills in their performances, if they can master the
method. Would I be wrong to suspect that simply practicing
on your own would accomplish the same thing? Before you buy
this book (at $33.95), I urge you to take a look at a copy
and see if it makes sense to you. As for beginners, it might
be better to invest in a few classes with a live body first.
options for purchasing Jenna's book: "The book is
also available through
the book wholesalers, Ingram and Baker & Taylor,
as well as Amazon. Lark in the Morning carries
it in their catalogue, as does Unicorn Bellydance Supply out
of Denver. Anyone can purchase my book online through my
website, http://oynamusicinmotion.com/book ,
which links through to my distributor, Itasca,
or they can order directly from Itasca by calling toll-free
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
Bellydance with Jillina DVDs Reviewed by Yasmela
On the whole, this is a great set of instructional DVDs.
They are top-notch quality and well worth the price. Even the
minor annoyances of the camera work on the performance sections
is very small compared with the wretched production quality of
many comparably priced instructional DVDs. These are definitely
top of the
Fels, Master Cymbal Maker by Shelley
made the most exquisite finger cymbals. Each one
was a work of art.
Jamila Experience by Yasmela
of these feelings fled as soon as Jamila walked through the door. A
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Serpent Rouge Reviewed by Yasmela
blending of theater and dance was really outstanding with broad
comedy moving seamlessly into dance.
Bou-Saada Bus by Yasmela
single one of us could play an instrument, sing, dance, run a
sound board, set a stage with backdrop, lights, monitors and
microphones, plug them in, and put them away. We made our own
costumes and our own drums and used duct tape in a thousand creative
ways. While we never made a living from it, it was our way of
life. Our experiences will bond us forever.
to the Gothla! Dancing Along the Sulk Road Review of 3
DVDs by Rebecca Firestone
The costumes are fabulous. It's almost like—who
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headdress that makes you look like an alien refugee from Star Wars?
Tempest's approach in particular is a painterly one, not surprising
from a student of the Rhode Island School of Design.
Trade Like Any Other: Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt, Book
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Van Nieuwkerk had as her main objective an examination
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on the status of their practitioners, the underlying question
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of Desire: A Foreign Dancer in Cairo, 2006, Review by
I believe that any dancer who has the desire to go to
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the other working dancers whom she asked to contribute. One will
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Rhythm and Reason Series Article
1- Cymbals, Beyond Basics by
Mary Ellen Donald
rhythm has a distinct arrangement of accents. If you are sure of where
these accents come, you can bring a unique flavor to each section of