I am a time specialist; that is, I teach how to relate to time. When I meet a drum set/hand drum student with any experience for the first time, the first thing I do is get them to sit and play- anything. I suggest that they pretend I am not with them, they are at home in their own space and should play anything that comes to mind. I have seen/heard some amazing things over the years. Sometimes I hear things I could never do. But when I ask these students to put these concepts in a time-frame (i.e. play to a track, metronome or break it down into phrases), they can’t always relate what they played to time- they just kind of do it.
I explain that time is everyday life. Rhythm that can’t be associated to time in any way is of no value (unless maybe you were in a bubble without anyone around to see/hear you so there wouldn’t be any context; need to relate at all). If you went about doing what you do daily without a time frame, you wouldn’t be able to interact with anyone or schedule anything in order to achieve whatever your day called for. So when you play music, you are scoping out a particular time slot and utilizing it for the purpose of producing/interacting with music either alone or with one or more persons.
Rhythm is a sequence of events that is related to time within itself first, and then in the context of whatever that sequence of events is relating to. This is really healthy stuff!
When you really understand/feel it, everything you do is affected in a positive way. If you ride the subway, you notice the sound patterns of the wheels going over the cracks in the track; when you pull up to a traffic light to make a left turn, if you look at cars’ turn signals in front of you, you can see them lining up/falling out of time; you walk with a different intent; your sense of organization is enhanced; you even notice the rhythm of brushing your teeth! Students’ sports activities improve as their sense of time becomes keener.
Everyone relates to time in their own way for their own purposes. Although I don’t believe you can develop a student’s time if they have absolutely none, I do think you can improve upon what they do have. I think every musician would benefit from basic drum set lessons.
“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson