a cup of rhythmic tea

Published June 24, 2021


Wanna play a fun musicianship-building game real quick? Today’s fun listening experiment comes from golden lotus studio’s own Donovan Dorrance. Take it away, Donovan!

Donovan Dorrance

Hey friends! I have a fun game for you and all you need are two hands and two thighs to play (whether they’re your thighs or a close friend’s is up to you 👀) Okay, ready?! 

I want you to pat your right hand on your right thigh in counts of three, evenly spaced, at a moderate tempo. Slow enough that you can say “one, two, three” and not feel rushed, but not too slow! Like the tempo of a blinker on a car! 

And I want you to say “one, two, three” as you pat! 

Okay go!

Keep those pats nice and even! Not too fast, not too slow!

Keep patting. Now, instead of saying “one, two, three” I want you to change your words to “hot, cup, tea”. Can you do that? Okay change ‘em!

You’re doing great! Don’t stop.

Before we sneak in the left hand, let’s change up our phrase just a little bit. Keep saying “Hot, cup, tea” for your right hand pats, but in between “cup” and “tea”, I want you to say “of”! Now you’ll have to say it rather quickly so that your “cup” and “tea” still match up with your right hand thigh pats. This means when you say “of”, there will be no thigh pat (not yet at least!).

Do you have it? Cup-of-tea should sound very evenly spaced. 

Say “one, cha-cha-cha” “one, cha-cha-cha” if that helps. 

But then switch back to “hot, cup-of-tea”!

Okay time for the left hand! Pat your left hand on your left thigh every time you say the word “of”. So the pattern of your hands will be this: 

“right, right-left-right”  “right, right-left-right”

Keep saying “hot, cup-of-tea” along with it. Do you have it?

Okay last step! Add in a left handed pat TOGETHER with your right hand on the word “hot”! So the hand combination is now “BOTH, right-left-right” “BOTH, right-left-right”.

Are you doing it?!?!?! 

Hot, cup-of-tea.  Hot, cup-of-tea.  BOTH, right-left-right.  BOTH, right-left-right.

You are amazing! Did you know that you just learned how to do a 2 against 3 polyrhythm?! Your left hand is patting two evenly spaced beats in the same time period that your right hand is patting three differently spaced but still evenly spaced beats. How cool is that?!  😎

Thanks, Donovan! This seems like the perfect time for me to tell you the next round of his innovative and fun Listen Up! ear training workshops is called “All About Rhythm.”


If you found this enjoyable, challenging, or if you generally would like to know more about rhythm and meters, how to count and feel complex music, and how to create complex rhythms and grooves, then you’re going to love this next module.


Listen Up! is an ear training course devoted to help increase your capacity to analyze music while you’re listening and in turn deepen the toolbox you use while writing your own songs. Each module is a stand-alone workshop. So by all means, come join us! Use the coupon code SAVE30 at checkout for your exclusive newsletter discount. Or join FASC for even more savings.


You’re my hot cup of tea, 🍵
Gary (and Donovan)
for golden lotus studio



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Listen Up! All About Rhythm
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Gary Grundei, founder | composer

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64 songwriting tips AND TRICKS

We created these tips just for you! Why? Because we know that you have a song just waiting to emerge and we want to help you share it with the world! Free for a limited time.