Michael Kenny: Danny Fulgencio

Michael Kenny: Danny Fulgencio

TaKeTiNa. Tah-keh-tee-nah. Go ahead, say it out loud. Rolls off your tongue in a fun, snappy sort of way, doesn’t it? That’s because it’s supposed to, according to neighbor Michael Kenny.

The word “TaKeTiNa” was created specifically for its sound — a string of syllables put together to cause your tongue to hit different parts of your mouth — and it means absolutely nothing. Same with “Ta-Ke,” “Ga-Ma-La,” and “Ga-Ma-La-Ta-Ke.”

Chances are you’ve never heard these words. They’re the words used in a fairly new musical practice, called none other than TaKeTiNa or TaKeTiNa Rhythm Process.

The concept is simple. “Externally, what it looks like is people standing around in a circle, stepping from side to side and singing,” Kenny says. But on a psychological and emotional level, it’s much more complicated than that, he explains. “Someone once told me, ‘It sounds like music, it looks like dance, but it’s a process of transformation,” Kenny says.

Michael Kenny: Danny Fulgencio

Michael Kenny: Danny Fulgencio

TaKeTiNa is a sort of therapeutic music process. Although it’s recognized and used in other countries, it’s largely unheard of within the professional music-therapy world in the United States, Kenny says. TaKeTiNa was developed by musician and composer Reinhard Flatischler from Vienna, Austria. Flatischler traveled the globe learning about rhythm, and he created the TaKeTiNa rhythm process in 1970.

Kenny, a certified musical therapist, learned about TaKeTiNa 18 years ago while working at Terrell State Hospital. Now he’s trying to convince other musical therapists to lend the practice a legitimate ear.

“It’s a process that’s dependent on the group, but it’s also a deeply personal experience,” Kenny explains. The very nature of TaKeTiNa forces participants to be both relaxed and focused at the same.

“Through this process, it brings about the synchronization of the hemispheres of the brain, connecting internally with the sensory-motor system,” he says.

More importantly, it “reveals the inner process.” It dredges up the inner thought patterns and beliefs people have that subconsciously form how they view themselves and how they respond to certain situations.

To explain how TaKeTiNa does that, Kenny points to his own experience. Kenny says he grew up in an unstable home with an alcoholic and severely abusive father. Later, he tried several different types of “talk therapy.”

“Through that I can tell you exactly why I am the way I am, the roots of it, where it came from. I understand it completely, but that doesn’t necessarily change anything,” he points out.

“When I started the TaKeTiNa training, we did six to eight hours of TaKeTiNa a day, and about a week into it I had a meltdown,” he says.

“I thought something was wrong with me because — and this is how I was feeling — ‘I’ve got a freakin’ master’s degree in music, for crying out loud. There’s only three steps and two claps, and I should be able to do this. There must be something wrong with me.’ It was pretty severe.”

Kenny’s thoughts became so consumed with negative self-criticism and self-judgment, he was finally forced to confront it.

“I would hear my inner self talking to me in ways I would never talk to anybody else,” he explains. “I really had to reframe all that and come to terms with it.”

Once he did, everything changed. “It was like something shifted inside of me. I mean, totally changed. What I discovered as I went back to my daily life was that this stuff was gone,” he says.

He’s seen it happen in other people’s lives as well, he says.

“You’re dealing with failure. Built into its design is the concept that everybody fails,” Kenny explains. “Part of the process is: You cannot do it — nobody can do it — by rationally wrangling all this stuff and being in control, consciously doing it all yourself. The way the brain works with the body, it’s just impossible. Everybody fails.

“It’s not if you lose the rhythm, it’s when. All of us will, many times. So the golden opportunity is just looking at what’s happening with you when you lose it. What are you telling yourself? How are you treating yourself?”

For more information
or to get involved, visit drumheart.org.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.