Respect yourself, respect others. Sometimes if you are new to an area and trying to break into an unfamiliar world music scene or drumming situation a subtle approach is better then an aggressive approach.For example Jesse a very good friend of mine who’s is an exceptionally gifted djembe, conga, timbale player, multi percussionist and musician broke into a new west african drum and dance scene ( some time ago) by observing the dance class several times rather then trying to force his way in and showing off. He asked if he could watch. This is showing proper respect.
After a few times watching he was invited to sit in at which point he completely blew everyones mind. He did not take off soloing.Not just because he is such a great djembe and dunun player but because he came into the situation with such respect as well. Jesse, a master of understatement basically say’s, “I let my drumming do the talking for me”. A great moto.
In general I suggest you pick your playing situations wisely.Please do not feel like you have to play in every situation you come across.You may not want to play at the african dance class that has 12 drummers playing already or the drum jam on the beach where everyone solos at the same time.
Sometimes jumping into a chaotic scene is not the best idea and will not help you in any way shape or form. As a matter of fact you may actually hurt yourself by playing when the music is not right for you. So repect yourself by not playing in improper situations.
If you are are studying drumming, learning how to play or a beginner one of the best ways to learn is by observing. Watching and listening to those more advanced then you. You can check out peoples form, technique,what to do and what not to do. You can also see how arrangements fit together with out the pressure of being in a class and having to learn something with in a certain time frame or perspective.
Sometimes I learn much easier watching others play then trying to play in the moment.
Look for the ethnic hand drumming, world music and or african related dance scene that fits your particular needs. There are many ways to find other drummers and places to play be it the newspaper, internet, googles search, etc. Sometimes you might have to travel a little. If so there are usually other people going from other places and I almost always find people to car pool with simply by asking around before or after a dance class for example.
If you know others who play already try to organize yourself and your friends for practice or playing parties, time slots or rituals. Whatever you use your drumming for. Up to you! Playing music and making music is very tribal and very personal at the same time.
You are sharing personal energy and group energy as well. Sometimes it is great to be part of the whole party, the whole gang and the whole village and other times are good for personal space or small groups or intimacy. Learn to recognize the difference by simply observing and paying attention to how you feel in any given situation. Don’t ignore your own feelings. I mention this because some of us including myself have felt it necessary to be part of every jam, every dance class and every west african, afro cuban or ethnic music performance happening in any given place I was living. I felt if I was not there or present I was some how not fulfilling my duty. But trying to be everyplace and make every dance class or drumming event is a sure road to burn out or early retirement! In being part of everything I was ignoring my own (and maybe others) needs for personal space or different types of experiences drumming.