The Rhythm Zone Music Project

2005 - 2017

Specialist music projects designed to promote focus and confidence for mainstream Primary Schools and "disengaged" teenagers in secondary education

Learn to play West African, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian music with acclaimed music tutor Pete Vilk (“Pete the Beat”) in a fun and inspired atmosphere. Develop your sense of rhythm, positive group interaction and self confidence.

From fun warm up exercises, challenging rhythm games and awesome drum grooves.

Get in the Rhythm Zone!!

  •  African, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban drumming traditions are explored in music workshops.
  •  Rhythms and songs are taught and we learn how to play music in a group.
  •  The skills of listening, group dynamics and working together are beneficial for every aspect of life.
  •  Self-confidence and concentration skills are often improved in young people during a project.
  •  Techniques and rhythms for Djembes (hands), Dun-duns (sticks), bells and shakers are explored.
  •  Young people learn how to cooperate and respect each other to play rhythms on drums & percussion as part of a drumming group together.
  •  Workshops build towards arranging the music together as a group, to perform an awesome gig!
  •  To be able to play this music and get in the zone together requires stretching our listening skills
  •  Musical ability through understanding the principles of playing music together & engaging in fun rhythm games!
  •  Aspects of cultural and society are explored as we learn about the rhythms and why they are played.
  •  Performances can be professionally recorded and made available as mp3
I was very impressed with the professionalism and infectious enthusiasm from Pete the Beat with the Knox pupils.
The pupils from Knox were a mix of pupils with specific needs and pupils who had an interest in drumming and wanted to learning new drumming skills. The first session was interesting to see how the pupils would mix and learn to work together to form their own ‘band’ - I was not convinced they would all be able to come together! They all seemed quite embarrassed and shy initially. By week 4 it was harder to get them all to be quiet as they all wanted to play so much!
Having spoken to the majority of pupils throughout the whole block they seem to have really enjoyed the experience (some even asking if they could do this again next term!) Along with learning some new drumming and percussion techniques on the various different instruments Pete provided, the pupils have tested their listening skills, group work, concentration and communication skills in a very different way.
In the final week the pupils played what they had learned in a final performance. The most interesting thing for me to see/hear was everything coming together, (I had heard them the week before!)
Sarah Ingham (Head Teacher) and myself commented on the pupils being able to continue playing their own particular part of the rhythm without being distracted by the other pupils round about them playing slightly different and sometimes contrasting rhythms - the amount of focus they all had was fantastic!
You didn’t know you were hearing what you were hearing until parts were ‘faded in and out’ during the performance - again proving the pupils ability to concentrate on their own part of the whole performance, following cues from Pete.
An all round excellent project for the pupils from Knox Academy to be involved in and we hope to be able to run the project with a different group of pupils again in the future.
— Jenny Duff, Expressive Arts Officer at Knox Academy, Haddington, Scotland

West African drumming set up!

Pete “the beat” Vilk has been drumming over 25 years and leading workshops for over 15 years in the UK with young children, teenagers and young adults.

My focus between 2010-2017 had been on working with "disengaged" teenagers in learn to succeed programmes in East Lothian.

Dunbar Grammar School

Regular West African and Afro-Brazilian rhythm workshops over a 10 session course resulted in 3 performances including  in front of 350 pupils, teachers and parents at the School Awards Ceremony, to over 500 people at the Musselburgh family day Bandstand event and for the Dunbar Bleachingfield Community Centre. Feedback about the sessions from the young people and support teachers have all been very positive and I have been invited back to teach a new course.

Dunbar Community Centre

Rhythm Zone will also be developing a new community Samba drumming band at the Dunbar Community Centre

“A brilliant project, engaging & fun & challenging and just what the young people need at this junction in their lives - group confidence and listening skills were certainly improved and we would like to have the project again with our next S3 group in 2013 please!”

 Kirsty McKluckie, Learning Support Teacher, Dunbar Grammar School


“This is the most focused and concentrated the group have ever been. Excellent project that has engaged them to achieve so much...i really enjoyed playing the music too!”

 Scott Walker, Project Manager, North Berwick Youth Cafe


Balafon, bells, shakers and the djembe & dun dun fleet

Aims and Objectives


  • To be able to play rhythms on drums and percussion as a group with the common aim of making music

  • To be able to understand the importance of listening and respecting each others learning process in the group

  • To feel empowered, confident and enjoy the process of learning drumming music

  • To develop self-worth, self respect and temporal self-awareness through playing drums and percussion.

  • To learn a complete set of patterns making up a traditional West African, Afro-Cuban or Afro-Brazilian piece of music (including songs)

  • To engage in arranging the music in the most dynamic and exciting way.

  • To be able to perform the music for fun, a public event or concert