Who exactly can play drums? Is everyone welcome? I say if you come to the drum with respect, yes!
Music is music. The drum is a musical instrument. Drumming is music and music see’s no colors, race or age. It is as simple as that. People may see that, (race, color, sex,age) and people may bring that to the drum. Yes, people sometimes bring their “stuff”, but the drum does not bring that to people. Lets get it straight. And, if we are playing non consecrated drums any one can play! Anyone can learn to play.
I have lived and studied multiple times in west africa,(Guinea and Mali), Brazil and Cuba and studied with many, many master drummers… and no one of these teachers has ever told me not to play, or I could not play or I should not play because of my skin color, age or anything else.
As a matter of fact it has always been the opposite. I have been encouraged to learn, play, perform and study. The masters from these places i have encountered over the last 35-40 years are very happy people are studying their cultural heritage and music!
I repeat. The masters are VERY happy we are coming to them to study and learn, that we have respect, that we show respect ad that we want to learn to play correctly! Because they want their traditions to live in and they see and feel those with open hearts, those who are true drumming spirits.
It’s never to late to come correct, to learn how to play or to play with others. There is a part for everyone. Maybe it’s bell, shekere, dunun, low tumbador. And maybe you might not be a raging soloist like a young teenager but you can still learn solo phrases and to play with feel and style. No matter what your age, race, color, sex or heritage, (did i miss anything?)
It just does not matter. Don’t be or feel alienated because someone gives you a vibe for being old, a woman,caucasian or whatever. That’s their problem. It does not come from the drum, from the spirit of the drum or from the true teachers or teachings of the drum. Yes, drums are spiritual instruments and that’s a fact.
If you have the desire to learn, to play and to study it is a wide open door if you keep your mind open and aware. There are more tools then ever to study with and a wealth of teachers and information. Do not look down on others because they are older, a different race (we are all humans damn it!) or whatever!
Please respect the culture where the drum came from. teachers and people who have dedicated their lives to this art form, to those who have come before you in the tradition, respect the elders. Give thanks to all those who have paved the way so that anyone can play because it hasn’t always been like this. People like Abdoulye Diakate helped to open the door in the 80’s for example in California to let anyone learn.
I give thanks to all the wonderful and great teachers and friends who have taught me how to play and to continue to teach me how to play drums and more importantly to play with others. Let’s have fun and drum together!