” I have always been drawn to rhythm. Growing up near Byron Bay, I was lucky enough to often stumble across the familiar sound of a drumming circle at markets, on the beach, and in the
streets. Drums for me always imposed a “Pied Piper effect” and I couldn’t help but follow the sound until I found the source! But I was a piano player, and it wasn’t until about the age of about 18, in a moment of inspired spontaneity, that I bought my first djembe.
To begin with, drumming for me was a solitary activity. I loved to escape from the pressures of the day by drumming alone at the nearby oval. I would often lose track of time. Drumming had become my form of meditation – it would always bring me back to the moment.
In my early twenties, I joined a samba-inspired community drumming group and discovered the feeling of connectivity, power and sheer joy that came from drumming with others. My weekly interaction with this diverse group of drummers was an important time for me in realising the potential of the drum in building social cohesion and community. By this stage, the rhythm-addiction was truly starting to take hold. I sought out a local percussion teacher to equip me with a better understanding of technique and signed up to whatever percussion workshops came my way!
Completing the African Drumming Teacher Training Course with Simon was a significant moment in my growth as a djembe player, and the skills and knowledge I acquired from this training equipped me with the confidence and practical understanding to implement drumming within my teaching practice. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of teaching hundreds of children to drum across a variety of school settings. I am currently studying a Master of Education and conducting a research thesis on drumming and student engagement. I am continually amazed by the great capacity the djembe holds as a teaching tool and the way in which it provides dynamic learning opportunities and life lessons.
It has been a great privilege to have the opportunity to assist with facilitating the African Drumming Teacher Training Course for the past couple of years. Working with the African Drumming team is such a joy – they are a talented bunch who have a genuine enthusiasm for the work they do. Since moving to Victoria 18 months ago, I have also been running weekly drumming classes in my hometown of Wangaratta. The djembe never fails to bring together people from all walks of life, and I feel so lucky to get to spend time grooving with such an awesome bunch of people each week.
I think the djembe is often dismissed as a simple and undemanding instrument. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The djembe demands a high degree of physicality, cognition and emotion that forges self-development as well as strong connections with others. I think it’s the perfect instrument: it is accessible to all – but the road to mastery requires a high degree of technicality, musical sensitivity, self-awareness and group cohesion.
I look forward to continuing my journey down that road. Learning to play djembe can open the door to a wealth of rich experiences – I encourage everyone to give it a go!”