When we sit down to play drums or music with other people it is the same as having a conversation verbally with others. Drumming especially, is an oral tradition and a means of communication. When you are with friends and have a conversation you look at the other peoples eyes and you all don’t talk at the same time. When people complain about a conversationalist they say, “he didn’t look me in the eyes”, or perhaps, “he only talked about himself”.
When people speak of a great conversationalist, or someone they really enjoyed meeting for the first time it is not because the person talked all about their own self. It is because the person listened to the other person speak and was genuinely interested in what they had to say. They were sincerely interested in the other person. It feels great to be listen to and really be heard. The same is true about drumming, we need to listen attentively to others and not only be concerned about being heard.
A great conversationalist is usually someone who listens to others as well as communicates their ideas clearly. When we are drumming with others it is the same. If we could listen sincerely, take turns communicating and connect with each other the experience would be much better for everyone.
As westerners we have an over concern with being heard. We feel we have not been and now we need to be. Or who knows, maybe its different for everyone. All I know is that this need to be heard can be overly egotistical. When we play with others instead of trying to hear ourselves over everyone else, try to see if you can play and still hear others around you playing. You only need to play loud enough to hear others around you.
When I am in dance classes where there are many beginners, drum classes or at misc. jam sessions and especially at drum circles what i experiences almost every time is people playing as loud as they can.
This is not music and it is not necessary. You are going to hurt your hands and other peoples ears as well.
I have been watching videos of some friends playing and noticing in some jam sessions, drum circles and even performances people are staring out in different directions, a lack of focus. It seems like sometimes people are in different worlds. I highly recommend any group of drummers work on non verbal communication and connecting, looking at each other when not at the dancers and doing constant check ins, rather then everyone being in their own world.
I see a lot of people with their backs to the dunun player(s). I understand this logistically however, turn around and connect with them as much as possible. These are the people holding the rhythm together. If we could drop our egos for a minute and realize this, drumming, group, music is not just about “me”, it is “us” then many experiences would be much better for all of us present.