Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What Ryhthms to Practice this Week!

This week, James made up a new rhythm based on Kuku Dununs and two accompaniments from the Kuku/Kukukase family. The first accompaniment is half of "Santa Maria": S SS STT/ S SS STT /S SS STT R LR LRL and the second accompaniment is the one Karen usually plays for Kukukase: TT S TTS/ TT S TTS/ TT S TTS RL R LRL We also worked on Konkoba in Sunday and for practice, we worked in Maraka Don and Soli Des Manian (with Dununs). ATTENTION: Memorial Sunday's class will have fewer people and will be at James and Karen's house in Lake Placid at 7PM. T - tone S - slap R - right hand L - left hand

Saturday, May 17, 2008

How Drumming Teaches Us About Ourselves

Today, as James was teaching the residents at a local rehab center, as part of their curriculum, I was amazed to witness how "telling" the drum is to a person's personality. Many of the residents were scheduled to show up for drumming, having no inherent interest in drums or music for that matter. But there was definitely a curiosity. In past groups, some participants had expressed fear of having "no rhythm", putting themselves down even before they started. Other's said nothing, their faces a little fearful. Maybe a few were even thinking, "what are we doing here?", and yet others were like, "Cool!"

Just like when James teaches kids, they all eventually can't help themselves and they just HAVE to hit the drum! Everyone's willingness to try something they weren't familiar with gave us a clue as to how comfortable they were with being out of their comfort zone in their "real" lives outside the classroom. Although St. Joe's residents are particularly talented in music (even though they don't know they are) and maybe somehow that is connected to their past history of chemical dependency, quite a few are very critical of themselves when they make a mistake. Wow, I thought, why would they EXPECT to be perfect at something new? But I once was like that too. And I was very unhappy back then. Once in a while, I wonder if they want to give up. But because of peer pressure, no one does. How easily do they give up on something "good" in their lives without peer support I wonder? Drumming is a wonderful analogy to life. Here's more:

I also noticed some who were quite quick to learn the rhythm and yet were so quiet in their drum playing that they could not help "lead" their companions to stay on track. So I surmise that in their everyday life, they are too timid to make an impact in other people's lives although they have the talent for it. Other's didn't seem to notice when they were off-time at all and kept playing oblivious to those around them. Possibly, they are often "out of sync" with others in their lives not paying attention to those important connections that could make their lives happier and healthier. Once they get comfortable with one rhythm, we add another, thus stretching them again beyond their comfort zones. While they are playing well, James will suddenly add another accompaniment. Most will fall off their own s=rhythm at first. How often does that happen to us in our relationships? We get used to being "alone" and then in relationship, we "lose" our own rhythm. The drum teaches us to play our own tune (individuation) yet be aware of others and to harmonize with others. It is not so easy. But by the end of the class, they are all playing in harmony - maybe for just a few minutes - but so much more than at the beginning of the class. The best part of drumming class is watching each new student bloom and begin to really get into the rhythm and enjoy themselves. We welcome mistakes and tell them it is natural. It helps them get more comfortable making mistakes. Many walk away with new-found confidence and big smiles, saying, "Hey, that was fun! Thank you so much!" Karen