Drum circle classes?

We have heard a bit about some people teaching the djembe in a 'drumcircle' kind of way. What does this mean? Well, I wasn't there but some students reported that a teacher was teaching his own techniques for djembe that weren't slaps and tones but rather just a drum hit that was a bit like a slap and a tone. Slaps and tones were thought of as somehow above the beginner drummer. What do you think of this approach for the newbie students of drumming in a drumming class? Did I explain that well enough?

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Comments: 5
  • #1

    John Tracy (Wednesday, 11 April 2012 04:23)

    Absurd! I can't imagine teaching anyone without doing both tones and slaps.
    To not do this shows NO respect for the djembe and those who have given it to us.
    I have seen many different teaching styles, many teachers, and they all somehow manage to teach tones and slaps.
    People who come to drum circles deserve the respect and expectation they CAN understand tones and slaps.
    There is much talk in drum circles about "spirit"... Well there is no respect for the Spirit of the Drum if those introducing it to newcomers oversimplify to just "teach" a sorta-tone sorta-slap noise. In circle communities a key value, along with spirit is always LISTENING, so why not help people listen to the difference between tone and slap.

  • #2

    John Tracy (Wednesday, 11 April 2012 04:32)

    My prior comment was that even in a drum circle there is no reason to do any short teaching or sharing about drumming without making a distinction between tones and slaps. People can understand and it helps the community. No need to pressure newcomers, but it is appropriate to share the sounds and feel of the drums they play.

    For an actual beginner CLASS ... It is inexcusable to not teach tones and slaps. Anyone can learn.
    Watering it down shows both lack of respect and no skill as a teacher.

  • #3

    Mark W. (Wednesday, 11 April 2012 09:15)

    As someone who has taught beginners for several years, I think there's no better time to introduce proper playing technique than in the first class meeting. It's not hard to play correctly as opposed to sort-of-correctly. Although slaps can be a bit challenging for some beginners to "get" right away, sloppy slaps with poor technique lead to painful, bruised fingers and an aversion to playing--something I strive to avoid with my students. As a teacher, I try to demystify the drum and make it enjoyable for everyone. Students sound good, have few or no drumming-related injuries, and they have more fun while drumming when they have good technique and strong playing habits on their side.

  • #4

    Alan (Friday, 11 January 2013 00:37)

    There are many ways to play a djembe. There are many sounds of the djembe. Many techniques may be used to play the drum. But, that said, if you need or want to make the sounds of the song of traditional djembe, the hands, the heart and the tradition must be with you. A TONE is normally a FIRM stroke without a locked wrist. A SLAP is normally a bright, high-pitched sound where the starting position is higher and the fingers end away from the drumhead. The BASS is played with the complete hand including the thumb without forcing the whole arm. It must be played with a firm yet not overly forced for it to me musical.

  • #5

    Alan Tauber (Friday, 14 February 2014 02:45)

    I wonder if most folks in drum circles really care about playing well. And I wonder what that means to them. Like, it's all about the feeling you get when you play and not about actual sound you produce. Volume of sound may make up to a drum circle person for indistinguishable sounds? Just thinking this through. The more I see and teach and watch, I think that such is so. But I am open to ideas. And do the drum circle people (DCP) not try to get good sounds because they fear it is hard? Or that have not been shown the way to the sounds well? Or that it's not worth it? Maybe it is contrary to what a drum circle should be. If a good drummer, one with sounds, came in he/she could take over the circle and hog a lot of time. Take it away for a time from the leaders? I have seen all of the above.

    Any ideas?