About 9 years ago I started something that would lead me to African drumming. The short version is that while looking for a 3D art project I met a guy whose house I ended up camping at while he taught me and about ten other people how to make a djembe. The djembe is a hand drum found in Africa. It is the primary drum used in West Africa. This one weekend introduced me to a new love, the love of West African music and more precisely hand drumming. There is something magical about drumming with others. You develop a friendship without ever speaking and feel connected to these strangers and comfortable around them. The feeling was so strong that I decided that I needed to find a way to take this into the school where I taught.
From this one weekend would spring an African Drum group that would last for eight years moving from extra-curricular to a full time class. With the help of Ryan Edwards the first two summers after receiving a grant for the project students involved in the group made 28 djembes that would become the group’s instruments. With one year’s drumming experience I would launch myself and my students into an amazing journey of drumming. This is a passion like art that I will pursue for the rest of my life. It may be one of the most joyful things that I do.
I haven’t been drumming for a couple of months due to circumstances of health. Drumming, however, can’t stay out of my life and reaffirmed its place twice this month. I’m helping a church group in establishing a drumming program in Columbia.
The people involved in this are just like I was when I started; a little knowledge, great passion and just the feeling in your soul that this needs to happen. The next event happened last night.
I went to a drum class held by my original teacher who was home from Boston; coming with new knowledge but the same passionate teaching. I was in heaven! He recorded our final exercise combining a traditional Malinke rhythm with two other techniques, which he is emailing to us. At one point I even got goose bumps up my arms. I don’t think I stopped smiling for the two hours of the class. One of my favorite quotes is from Babatude Olatunji, “The Creator wants us to drum. He wants us to corrupt the world with drum, dance and chants. After all, we have already corrupted the world with power and greed….which hasn’t gotten us anywhere – now’s the time to corrupt the world with drum dance and chants.”
I think God loves drumming, she put it in every action of this world. Life is a rhythm. We just need to wake up and feel it.
Peace and Drum