So Your a Beginner !
So What ! A few Ideas for djembe players around learning
Everybody has to start somewhere. Why not start at the beginning ? Start at the beginning and then start to walk in the direction you want to go or perhaps where the Drum will take you. Here are a few ideas and tips I thought I’d share with you that may help you in your worthwhile journey with the Djembe. Remember they are not rules, if they were then I am guilty of breaking every one of them. They may apply to you or they may not. Remember most of the experts and masters of Djembe are in their sixties and have spent all their lives perfecting their art. So be patient with whomever your teacher is and most of all yourself. Most good teachers will be willing to share all of what they know with you if they think your ready and willing but just remember they are not a walking google search engine that responds to every single question. In some Aboriginal cultures the Elders will often not answer a question for days until they’re ready and sometimes they wont even answer it!
Before we start here are a few quotes which I like.
“The Drum knows its owners hands”
” No one is born a Master”
“There is no mystery where there is mastery”
“Where its hardest, that’s where the learning is at”
“Self reliance Conquers all difficulties”
“The Spirit of the Drum is something you can feel but not put your hands on”
“A feeble effort will not fulfill the self”
“A Village without music is a dead village”
“Native Americans were always on the one”
Learning the Djembe or The Djembe teaching you
Discovering your own mental process in relation to learning African Drumming can be a fascinating journey. Through the receiving of information ie the rhythms and the playing of them we can learn a whole lot about ourselves. Taking the time out before a class to ponder about your relationship to the drum and how you learn or receive information can be helpful to further your own learning.
Here are some tips.
1. Set an intention prior to the class about what you would like to achieve in this class e.g holding a steady beat, better tones and slaps etc. Discuss this with your teacher about how best to achieve this. Stick to your original aim and don’t allow yourself to get distracted by T.V, bad moods, cold weather, apathy or the numerous excuses our mind comes up with. The simple truth is the more we play in a focused way the better we become as musicians. In the company of a group is a great way to do this.
2. Remain positive around learning, even if your not getting it or “your playing sucks” in your own mind. Simply by showing up and being present in a class means we are getting something by doing and listening than not being there at all and staying at home simply because the class was hard that week. You will learn the most by making mistakes and the recognition of them. All Djembe players suffer a lot and yet have the greatest joy in playing. Its kind of a double sided coin thing.
3. Enjoy the process. There is no end destination in music. Drumming brings us into the present, which is where we can fully enjoy life. Tomorrow and the same set of musical circumstances is not guaranteed to us. Every day and class brings new challenges and experiences. You cannot get everything in one go. It is better to play one part well than 4 parts badly. Small steady steps will help you reach your target. Big steps ie Large amounts of information, can make you feel tired.
If there’s an intensity around your learning or within you then turn down the internal dial. Soften and go easy on yourself. Sometimes getting that bell part isnt that important compared to your overall enjoyment of the class. Learn to relax physically and mentally, this will allow you to feel and perceive the rhythms better. Plus you wont get tense muscles in your body.
Embody the music by repetition and singing the parts phonetically and learn to dance to the music at home or a local dance class. See what words rhyme with the rhythms so that you can remember them.
That’s enough for now to digest. Now go have some fun playing!