This week, I’ve moved onto a new rhythm, called ‘Straight Eighth Feel’. So far, I’m half-way through the examples in the book (there are many variations on this rhythm).
I’ve been consistently practising three times per week, sometimes with my metronome, sometimes with the drumming CD that came with my book.
On Saturday, I’m attending an indoor drum circle.
I practised Djembe three times this week, working on a rhythm called Kasa. I also worked with this rhythm using a metronome, gradually increasing the speed.
Since attending the Muhtadi Festival a few weeks ago, I’ve attended two drum circles – a small one in a park next to the lake, and a BIG one in a city park downtown.
The smaller circle had a more intimate feel and I was a bit intimidated because I could definitely ‘hear’ myself. I kept my rhythms simple and tried to just support the downbeat and keep my ears on the group. With a smaller number of people (10ish), we fell into a groove easily. People wandering through the park joined in or stopped to dance. One dancer was drunk, and he brought a tense energy into the circle, but a snare drummer who had stopped in with his daughter peacefully diffused the situation and the beat went on. I’d love to know just how he did that!
Last night, I took my drum with me to an evening class and stopped by the larger circle afterward. It was huge – there must have been 100 people present. I was gratified to see many other women drummers in the group. Although it was a powerful energy to be amongst so many drummers, the groove sometimes disappeared all together and it would take a few moments of rhythmic chaos before the group managed to come back to a common downbeat.
Both groups were powerful in their own way and I’ll definitely be going back – I suspect this will be the summer of drum circles for me. Participating in a circle has changed the way I drum.
The Muhtadi Drum festival was on this past weekend. I’ve attended it in other years to hear the performances, but this is the first year I attended with my own Djembe. The first day was rainy, but on the second day of the festival I brought my Djembe, Antara, with me.
Since buying Antara last August, I’ve been practising regularly and jammed a few times in the drum store, but I haven’t played in a drum circle. It was late in the summer when I started and by the time I felt ready, it was already getting chilly out. My hope for the festival was that I might find a few open drum circles and possibly even find a regular group to jam with.
Both of my wishes came true! I had several opportunities to join in circles, and I drummed until my hands hurt! ;-) I’ve heard more than once that the best way to improve your drumming is to play with other people and it’s definitely true! In those few hours, I learned so much and gained loads of confidence in my drumming. I know that this will be the way for me to move forward as a Djembe player.
The festival itself was fantastic – lots of vendors, amazing performers from all around the world, including the Djembe Master Amara Kante from the Ivory Coast. The whole experience was inspiring. And it was really special to me to attend this festival as a drummer. Can’t wait for next year!!!
(the image is of Amara Kante)
With the warmer weather, I’ve started practising out in the park again. I’m working on three new rhythms from the ‘Hip Grooves for Hand Drums’ book. My favourite is Kassa. I’m going to keep working on these until I feel very comfortable with them. I’m finally getting the distinction between a slap and a tone and I’m able to alternate between them. I feel like I’m finally hearing the ‘voice’ of my drum!
I haven’t been practising as much lately because I had to turn my drum books back to the library. One of them has a long hold list so it will be weeks before I can check it out again.
For my birthday, a friend gave me a gift certificate for an online bookstore! I ordered both of the drum books and now I’m looking forward to working from my very own copies! (hopefully this week) Yay!
Hopefully, I’ll practise more. Also, the weather is warming up, so I’ll be able to take my drum outside again.
Still practising my Djembe nearly every day. I feel that I’ve mastered the two rhythms I’ve been working on since Christmas, the Kuku and the Kassa. I’m now working on a simple rhythm from the ‘Hip Grooves for Hand Drums’ book. It’s exciting when a rhythm becomes so instinctual, you can almost have a conversation while you play!
I just received “How to Play Djembe” from the library the other day – I requested it ages ago. I was worth the wait! The book comes with a CD to practise with and this has made a huge difference for my drumming!
On the CD, there are two different parts on two tracks (R and L) and you can listen on either headphone to learn the rhythm, then listen through both to practise. Each clip lasts 5 minutes, and has a drummer soloing near the end.
The book has the same simple notation used in “Hip Grooves for Hand Drums” (another great book, highly recommended).
I just wish I wasn’t so busy, and had more time to drum! I’ve been trying to practise every day, but in reality, I manage to practise about four times per week on average.
This book will be due soon, and I will need to turn it in. I think I’m going to order my own copy. The book is available at Dancinghands.com or through Amazon.
Since my last entry, I’ve purchased my own Djembe. Since I brought it home (almost a month ago already!) I’ve practised nearly every day. I’ve found a few books that are helpful. ‘Hip Grooves for Hand Drummers’ has given me some direction in my practice, though not everything in the book is applicable to Djembe. The same company publishes a book on the Djembe and I have it on request at the libary – hopefully will get in a month or so. ‘The Way of the Drum’ by Russell Helm is a fun book. The patterns are interspersed with stories and he takes a somewhat spiritual approach to learning to drum. I’ve settled into a routine for practice – I take my drum out to the park and sit in the sunshine. People around the neighbourhood now now me as the ‘Drum Girl.’ ;-)
I’ve actually been learning to play djembe for over a month, stopping by the drum store on my way home from work a few times a week to practise. My technique is getting better, but I’m still working on the basics. Right now, I still need to learn to relax my hands, position them correctly on the drum and stop looking at them!