A good friend and long time drummer recommends that students play every day. Some people think that means they have to sit around for hours at a time but he say’s even five minutes to connect with your instrument (in this case the djembe drum) makes all the difference in the world. You are building a relationship!
Another teacher from long ago, Les Lumley from the group, “Ghetto Mysticism” in Boston say’s, “if you are learning a music or drumming style from another culture, the most important thing you can do is to listen to music from that culture regularly”.
I find it really helps especialy for really getting the feel in your body and soul.
Most of us grew up not listening to popular western music, not African music. So as we develop our rudimentary and advanced skills on the djembe, dunun, congas (or any instrument from another culture for that matter), it is important to listen to and immerse ourselves in the music of the culture we are learning from.This is because there are many ways to learn and listening and immersion can be very good for most people.
Many people who listen to music regularly besides taking classes or jamming with friends find themselves “remembering” phrases or patterns from listening and also they just pop out sometimes which is very fun and interesting phenomenon as well.
It is also very helpful to learn and study about the people, culture and history of the place you are studying music from to gain a full understanding, wholistic and well rounded understanding of it.
Drumming is only a small part of African culture for example. There is also other instruments besides the drum, and there are songs chants, dance and intention that always are involved in any playing of music in West Africa.
Intention to me means, “what is the purpose of this rhtyhm”. for example many of the arrangements we play in West African drum and dance class or for specific eents such as full moon celebration, wedding, hunters return or coming of age for young people to name just a few.
Music is and was created in a culture and also a result of the food people ate, the air they breathed their thoughts and communications their needs of the community and so fourth. Sometimes, just learning a rhythym with out knowing about the culture really takes t completely out of context. Of course we can not be there all the time (unless you love to travel) so learning is the next best step!
The rhythms, patterns and arrangements in ethnic music were developed over time and passed on through verbal tradition and handed down generation to generation and now they have made ther way to us! It is exciting to learn these drum patterns and their history and meaning as well.