Book Review: Elsa Nilsson

Between the Beats: Strengthening Rhythmic Relationships for Melodic Instruments by Elsa Nilsson

Elsa Nilsson has written an in depth, comprehensive, musical book on rhythm that covers many approaches and techniques to practicing rhythm whether you are a classical or jazz flutist. The book is a collection of methods and exercises for improving awareness of the space between the beats, and is full of exercises that you can easily do. In fact if you practice this entire book, over time your understanding of rhythm will increase exponentially!

The book is divided into 7 chapters:

Growing Your Beat

Rhythmic Precision

Rhythmic Displacement

Feel Based Concepts


Odd Time Signatures


The first chapter opens with this quote from the Mysticism of Sound of Music by Hazrat Inayat Kahn:

 “Everything in the world has two movements, the moon has it’s waxing and waning; the sun its rising and setting; the tide its flow and ebb; man has rise and decline. This shows us that time is not in the watches and the clocks that we have made, but time is the rhythm of the entire universe.”

To practice the exercises you need to use the programmed metronome tracks provided through a unique download that each copy of the book has, so you are supported throughout your practice. I’ve only begun to use the book and have applied some of the time exercises to my own practice and in my teaching and I can say that the results are excellent and encouraging, and they have me thinking about rhythm in new ways. In fact the book has opened my ears to improving and building out my own rhythm in creative ways.  It’s definitely worth a read!

Recordings can be found at: and


--Barbara Siesel

Leave a Reply