Posted on April 4, 2015


The Benefits of Playing Zills for Mind, Body and Soul


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zills at om laila studio
Learning to play the zills will complement your dance training but it can offer much more. Many dancers discover that playing finger cymbals provides benefits that extend beyond their belly dance classes as they notice the positive emotional, mental and physical benefits of learning percussion.

Five Healthy Reasons to Practice Percussion  

  1. Become a Musician as well as a Dancer
  As a dancer you will use finger cymbals to complement the musicians but as a musician you can learn a great deal about the structure of music, rhythm and beat. There is nothing quite like knowing not just the basic rhythms (called the skeleton of the rhythm and this is usually what belly dancers learn) but also how to fill those rhythms in a number of creative ways. This puts the beat (the pulse of percussion) and the rhythm (the song of the drum) in your body and brain on a much deeper level.  
  1. It’s your Brain Gym
  Looking outside of belly dance training we need to find activities to keep us sharp as we age. Learning to play the zills is the ultimate brain gym. Even for beginner level percussionists, playing simple patterns within a rhythm, (ex: 123 123 123 123 in a 4/4 rhythm like Baladi) and stepping on the beat seems impossibly difficult. However, as you progress not only does it get easier but provides ongoing self-accomplishment. You even notice a newfound ability to multi-task on an entirely new level in day-to-day life!

For dancers and artists that like a challenge, and love to put themselves in the beginner's mindset, zilling reminds many of when they started taking belly dance classes. students have to relearn to move and find the co-ordination that is required of belly dance but now with the addition of simultaneously playing a musical instrument.  
  1. Connect with Yourself and Others
  Percussion is a connection activity both in terms of self-awareness and bringing participants together socially:
 
  • Playing zills in class is oftentimes a group activity. Dancers and musicians work together to practice and produce layered and complex songs and dances. Even the newest percussionist can play a simple pattern while more experienced players fill and hold the piece.
 
  • Percussion is a team building exercise. As we learn to play zills we are watching and listening to each other. This overflows into dance as well. We need to be communicative, comfortable and in tune when reaching a common goal with our troupes and classmates.
 
  • Playing finger cymbals is fantastic for self expression. When you learn music you gain the ability to play with and within the music. There are a seemingly infinite number of rhythms and patterns that can be played within the beat of the music and this unleashes a serious amount of creative and artistic potential; the chance to be heard and the opportunity to work as an individual within a group, or as a soloist.
percussion benefits
  1. Reduce Stress and Ground Yourself
  Percussion is powerful and has been used to heal for millennia. Playing the finger cymbals or a drum has a trance-like effect that reduces stress. Learning to play the zills also involves a deep level of focus and concentration that can take your mind off anything from a bad day to a traumatic experience. Finger cymbals will ground you because you must be in the present moment for the level of timing and coordination involved. Being grounded and in the present moment helps us to live “in-the-now”.

    • Percussion increases alpha waves in the brain leading to a calmer mind. Drumming and percussion can be used to help treat individuals with over-active or hyper-vigilant minds.
 
    • Sometimes we are out of sync with ourselves. This can manifest as sickness, addiction and even self-centeredness. There is something to be said regarding the act of physically syncing and its result on mental and emotional synchronicity.
 
    • Life has natural rhythms and percussion helps us to feel the earth, nature and universe in more deep and profound ways.
  1. Zills are Fun!
Zilling is fun, there is no doubt. Whether you’re a belly dancer looking to add a new element to your routine, an older adult hoping for interesting ways to achieve brain health or someone that wants to come out of her shell and be heard; finger cymbals provide countless opportunities to find the musician within and to progress on both personal and artistic levels.

While belly dancing is a gentle exercise that can be adapted and modified to almost anyone’s level of health and physical fitness, playing zills is accessible to absolutely everyone. Even the most fit and conditioned dancer can take a break in class to play percussion if s/he feels the impulse. Developing musicality, playing in time and putting it together with dance does take work, patience and practice but we all start at day 1 and it's a fun and rewarding process!  
Guest Writer
Kaleena is a student and teacher studying under the tutelage of Roula Said at Om Laila Studio in Toronto for belly dance, wellness and music. She has discovered the benefits of playing zills as a dance artist and as an individual seeking new and fun ways to achieve a powerful mind-body connection. She attends Om Laila for its focus on artistic, intellectual and personal growth. Visit Kaleena’s belly dance blog, Kaleena Belly Dance to read more.

Guest writers are welcome to submit articles relating to their experiences at Om Laila Studio. Please write to Roula with your idea at info@omlaila.com



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Posted in arabic music lessons,Bellydance,Classes,Om Laila,Toronto Bellydance,zill lessons | Tagged bellydance classes bellydance toronto om laila studio Toronto Zills

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