Are you feeling overwhelmed with all of the material that you need to practice on the pandeiro? Are you wondering what you should practice today? In this blog I’ll share a Daily Pandeiro Ritual that will help you make progress and maintain your pandeiro chops.
Recently a student of mine stopped me in the middle of a class routine and said that she was feeling overwhelmed with all of the material. She dedicates 30minutes per day to her pandeiro practice routine and she’s been studying with me for 9 months. She has a folder filled with handouts from my classes and she doesn’t know where to begin. This is normal. I feel overwhelmed sometimes when I sit down to practice. But, I am able to clear away all of the “stuff” and get straight to the routines that I know will make a difference in my playing. Time is very limited for all of us. You need to identify the routines that help you the best and stick to them. Over time, a routine that took 20 minutes might only take 10 minutes to get through. Now you have 20 extra minutes to practice stuff you don’t know!
Here’s how I break down my practice time.
Prepare my practice journal.
Practice 15-30 mins on a rudimental/technique exercise with a Metronome
Practice 30-90mins on new ideas and/or challenging grooves
Notate everything in my practice journal including tempo markings
Continue my day with a healthy conscience
Depending on the day and the month I might practice for longer or shorter periods of time. The important thing to notice is that I keep a journal, use a metronome and I always start with the same exact routine, every time! The pandeiro is all about rote movements and internalizing these movements into our muscle memory.
The first thing to understand is that the pandeiro requires a refined technique in order to be able to play all those fun grooves that you’re dying to get into. Without a solid technique, your groove and feel won’t develop and you’ll constantly struggle with your sound and stamina. Focus on developing your left wrist and very clear tones with Zone 1, Zone 2 and Zone 3. (more on that here)
Daily Pandeiro Practice Ritual
Now let’s take a look at a practice routine that you could incorporate into your Daily Pandeiro Ritual. Please feel free to modify and customize this routine based on your level of playing. As you improve you might want to add more to it and connect these routines with other ones. The more you customize the routine for yourself, the more connected you’ll be to it. The important part here is ROUTINE. Do it every day if you can! If you feel that the routine is too easy, try playing it faster until you reach your breaking point. Record the breaking point tempo in your journal and make it your goal to feel at ease playing at that tempo by next week. Then, repeat.
Here’s 1 routine that you could incorporate into your Daily Pandeiro Ritual. This is part of a Pandeiro Pyramid exercise that I developed. If you’d like to check out more Pyramid exercises for Pandeiro jump on over to the Pandeiro Course. This routine is making use of the bass tone with our thumb. You can check out a blog post about Bass Tones here.
Partido-Alto (High-Party) is a sub genre of Samba that was born in Rio de Janeiro and was influenced by the melting pot of cultures migrating to the port city during the turn of the twentieth century. Partido-Alto can be classified as a style of singing improvised verses or a specific rhythm. The singing style is usually divided into two parts;
Verses: The lead singer/s improvise their verses based on a theme and usually compete with each other.
Refrain: This is the response to the verse and is sung by the coro, or the entire group.
The origins of Partido-Alto reside deep within the diverse Afro-Brazilian cultures of Congo-Angolian heritage and was influenced by many styles such as Jongo, Embolada and more. If you’re interested in digging in deeper into the history, check out my friend Beto González’s article where he reviews a book by Nei Lopes called “Partido-Alto: Samba de Bamba”. Click here to read the article.
Also, do yourself a favor right now and watch this video to really get a birds eye view into the roots of Partido-Alto. Skip to 14:55 to see various singers stepping to the mic and improvising over a theme.
Here’s a list of a few quintessential Partido-Alto icons for you to check out:
Aniceto do Império
Clementina de Jesus
….and there’s many more. But this will get your started with the roots of the music.
Now that you have a very basic background on what Partido-Alto is, let’s take a look at a few variations for pandeiro. This is one of my favorite Partido-Alto songs that I always give to my students first, before they learn any other samba groove. This is a song by Aniceto do Império called “Samba de Partido Alto”. The tempo is perfect for beginners and intermediate players and the rhythmic parts in the pandeiro are very clear in the recording. Here’s a transcription of the outline of what the pandeiro is playing:
Now practice along to this song.
Here’s another one of my favorite classic Partido-Alto songs by Clementina de Jesus and Clara Nunes. This is also great for beginner and intermediate pandeiro players because of the tempo and clarity of the pandeiro part. Check out the pandeiro part and then play along with the song.
The third Partido-Alto that I give to my students after they’ve internalized the previous two is this song by Martino da Vila. Notice how it’s almost identical to the pandeiro part on the Clementina song above but it leaves out beat one and adds an extra note on beat 2 in the 2nd measure. Those small differences have a huge impact on the overall feel of the groove. Check it out:
If you spend the next 6 weeks playing along to these songs or any other songs by these artists, your pandeiro playing will definitely break boundaries and you will begin to internalize the Samba de Partido-Alto rhythm. Remember to take your time practicing. If these tempos are too fast, slow it down with a program or start with a metronome at a slower tempo and build up to being able to play with these songs.