Hands and Drums
I've probably had my hands on a drum every day for the first 15 years of playing.
I started taking an African drum class at Colorado College around 1996 but before that series started I learned that a Senegalese teacher was coming through our area to give one class and needless to say, I signed up. I really wanted to hear the rhythms drummed. I borrowed a conga from my daughter's elementary school and made it to the class. The instructor, Malik Sow, had everyone drumming within 10 minutes except me. I was just listening to the rhythm and getting lost in the what @nonameslefttouse labeled as "Natural Buzz" and faking my hand patterns throughout the class. I found the instructions to be confusing but that didn't matter because I wasn't there to learn. I just wanted to get lost in the rhythm and not pay attention, so I continued faking my way through the class but my secret was revealed to everyone by the end. We were put into pairs to play what we had learned and I failed miserably.
There is a definite structure to playing an African rhythm. The hardest venue for playing this type of music is in the African dance classes because of the endurance it takes. Only the soloist who is marking the steps of the dancer can play what he wants mixing with riffs that are traditional with that particular rhythm. Drummers in the background (that's me) are given a pattern to play nonstop at about 150-200 BPM for forty minutes right after playing a rhythm twenty minutes for a warm up dance. I questioned my sanity every time while playing for dance class at that thirty minute mark and knowing I still had ten more minutes to play and the last ten were the fastest. I almost always took an oath to myself to never do it again. Drumming a traditional rhythm for you to dance to for forty to ninety minutes nonstop is work but it can be a gift to a dancer to experience the euphoria of getting lost in the rhythm and using its energy to preform exhausting steps and easily pushing through their usual limits. The dancers always parade in front of the drummers when the rhythm is finished. They bow and touch the floor in front of each drummer showing gratitude a heart felt thank you for the gift. It's definitely a good workout for everyone.
Malik Sow giving class.
The Colorado College classes started soon after that initial experience and were taught by Stuart Dinwoodie. It was at that time I became a serious student about learning because that was the only way I was going to hear it. The drumming was nowhere to be found back then. I figured if I want to hear it I would have to play it and so the journey began.
"My First Drum Class" https://steemit.com/life/@willowwisp/my-first-african-drum-class
Stuart had a group of students who were excellent. They traveled to a small village in Mali to study with Moussa Sylla for 6 months and upon returning I decided to help in their project to produce a CD.
As I mentioned, I played daily for about 15 years before leaving that world for several illnesses that I feel I'm just now getting under control. I'm not who I used to be... I can no longer carry a drum and walk (yet) but I am back in the drum world at some level after ten years of rarely playing.
Now I have a new dilemma. My hands are hurting and burning. I have to ask myself, is it from all the practicing for preforming this summer or is something else happening to my aging fingers. I've decided to do as little as possible with my hands and give them a rest. If they calm down it may have been the drumming and I will pace myself better now that I'm back into playing a little at least once in a while. I am also prescribing for myself "no housework".... an obvious must in my recovery...right?
So, the question is:
Which drum will be a part of my future world...
...the one I've been playing, teaching, and traveling with for over 25 years...
...or this cute little djembe (sounds like jim bay) drum I can wear around my neck?
Time will tell.
But until then Marshall will be in control of all drums.