Drumming is an art form and the drum is a musical instrument. It needs to be learned. Why?
There are many different styles of drumming from many different places. I have studied drum music originating from West Africa and end also ending up in the new world. Some people call it traditional african drumming. This is where my field of expertise lay.
There is a place for everyone and every style of drumming. That is part of the great beauty of it. And everyone is welcome! Drumming is inclusive of all ages, races, sizes and sexual preferences and don’t let anyone tell you any different. There are all female drumming groups all over the world from many different countries including Africa and Cuba for example. I would like to start off saying that playing is indeed about playing and having fun.
I believe that drumming is an art form. Like fine art or martial arts for example. Any art form has basic skills, a skill set that in my opinion has to be learned in order to compose a piece or to function properly and with ease. A framework to work with in and to jump off of. Of course, who is to say what art is?
If we were talking about fine art you would learn the basics of mixing yellow and blue to make green for example. It is very basic, but no matter what you do with art you will learn this simple equation. If it is martial arts or boxing you would learn the basics of how to make an effective punch, or how to block a punch or dodge a punch. Gradually over time you learn and improve. You do things you did not know yo would be able to. With a good teacher you learn more .
There is no way around this no matter which style you choose. If you do not move out of the way or block the punch you get hit. You can not skip learning these basics and move on to the next thing. Also, you must practice the basic moves to perfect them and so that it not only becomes effortless but you don’t have to think about it. It just happens. There are no skipping steps.
In carpentry you might learn about math, angles or how to swing a hammer or hammer a nail. Or how to frame a house. The basics. Otherwise you would bend nails and break things. The house would fall down from sloppy unknowledgeable building techniques. If you leave nails hanging out or do sloppy work, people complain.
So learning an art, any art is about first learning the basics or fundamentals. Learning the basic skill sets. Then you need to learn how to spar, to “play” or use it in context effectively with other people. In fine art you learn the skills to start and finish a composition, to make a painting. You are taught different vantage points and to paint as if someone was looking at the painting.
It takes time to learn and perfect any art and it does not happen over night. Maybe you already have raw talent but you still have to learn the forms and the technique, how to mix your colors, how to make a composition, vantage point and many other techniques and basic skills to make those forms complete and to take it to it’s full fruition.
When you build a house it must be set on a strong foundation. The stronger the foundation the stronger the house. If you make a strong house on a weak foundation it falls in. Everyone knows the story of ”The Three Little Pigs”. We want your drumming foundation to be brick soild!
I often hear the argument that a person is playing “free form” or fusion. When in fact they are not fusing anything. To fuse something you have to have two strong elements. If the alleged “fusion”person has learned two forms or styles completely or at least strongly, then there is something to be fused. But if you try to fuse sand to water nothing happens.
The drum is indeed a musical instrument and not a toy. There is a long history to your drum be it a conga, djembe, shiko or whatever. It comes from proud deep cultures in West Africa where the drum is used in conjunction with song, dance, intention and often ceremonies be it full moon, harvest, marriage and many other situations. Maybe you don’t care about that, and that is fine. But knowledge is empowering and it is interesting and good to know what energies produced the drum you are playing.
I believe that one of the many magical things about drums and drumming is that is calls out to us immediately. When I watch a child hit a drum i see and recognize they are feeling something at once. Something does indeed transfer with out any knowledge! It speaks to out to us even when we don’t know how to hit it and it puts us immediately in touch with what we are missing in terms of connection to inner rhythm, to our own natural rhythm.
Where people get stuck is thinking that this is it. That that is all there is to it. That my friends is an invitation. An invitation to learn, to come to the drum! The first feeling or the feeling you get when you hit the drum is not all there is to it. It’s magic, but there is so much more! If you let the drum show you, if you study and learn about it, the rhythms and culture of the drum… it can and will show you so much more. It can be life changing and healing as well.
If you have hit a drum before then I am sure you know what I am talking about and if you have not hit one I suggest you go to your nearest music store and try one out, you will immediately see what I mean. You feel like you can play it at once.