Drums are thought to be one of the oldest form of musical instrument known to humankind. So old, truth be told, that scientists from the National Academy of Science have said that drumming is vital to our species; different primates also communicate by drumming. It may in all likelihood be something we as humans have evolved to do.
In various forms, the art of drumming has likewise turned into an indispensable part of societies all over the world, from East Asian war drumming to the talking drums of Sri Lanka and the djembe of West Africa. These instruments are universal in nature, being deeply tied to our humanity.
DrumConnection connects students with a very specific part of our human heritage: the djembe drum music of Guinea. Guinea is a little country on the west shoreline of Africa, yet it has a large presence on the world stage. We offer an exciting, healing and unique experience of the rhythms of the continent.
Everything started about 30 years ago in Arlington, Mass. As a facilitator, I was asked to organize drummers so people new to drumming could get along, as loud drums were not playing well with tiny, quiet drums.
The school officially became DrumConnection (a term and name coined by a good friend) in 1990 as part of The Cambridge Center of Adult Education, a prominent adult education school founded in 1886 and now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
In the beginning, it was just a few classes that I taught, but their popularity led to the program's expansion. Today, we are the largest hand drumming school in New England. We have a teacher training program and 15 amazing instructors. For the last 24 years, our teaching studio has also been at The Arlington Center for the Arts on Foster Street in Arlington, which is a great place to learn art, music, drama and life lessons.
Our program is unique because we are able to bring in true hand drumming masters such as Famoudou Konate, Mamady Keita, Bolokada Conde, Wadaba and many others who share their cultures, rhythms and lore with students. Students are also given the chance to visit Guinea, the birthplace of the djembe drum. ''
• Alan Tauber, the founder of DrumConnection began drumming at the age of the 4. From marching band to jazz to pop, rock, folk, power punk, fusion and classical percussion he was drawn to the west African djembe 35 years ago. The list of the famous drummers he had the pleasure to study and play with is a who’s who in the drumming world. Stars from the Rock world, like Carmine Apice to jazz legends Gary Burton, Fred Buda, Alan Dawson, Vic Firth, Joe Morello, Alphonse Mouzon and the great Buddy Rich. In African music Alan has spent much time and befriended Ibrahima Camara, Abdoulaye Sylla, Babatunde Olatunji, Mamady Keita, ‘Wadaba', Bolokada Kondé, Babara Bangoura, and his current master the only living legend of the djembe and dunun, Famoudou Konaté.cisions
• That said, it takes a sensitive musician to bring music to life and Alan has proved over and over again that he knows what makes a great teacher, a great performer and a steady accompaniment player as well as soloist. His own limitations physically due to the hard demands of the djembe has enlightened Alan to consult with students and doctors alike about best treatment options and playing techniques he has developed and honed for older djembe players. “As you age, you must be sure you know what you are really doing on that djembe or those dunun or you will get hurt. It’s similar to a sport which is very enriching and fun but if you fall or don’t take rest days, you may pay for that later. Better to learn a solid skill set first.
• Alan developed the Teacher in Training Course for people who like to teach but also for those who what to develop their playing at a very fast rate. If you have to teach it, you will learn it. If your sounds are not pure, your students will not understand what you are playing so it makes your sounds pure. It’s a great way to become involved with West African drumming and get really good and give to the community. Most communities need a good dose of drumming. Read his website of all the benefits of drumming for the general population at www.drumconnection.com
They have the opportunity to travel annually to study drumming, language, dance and culture from the Guineans. Due to sickness and fear, this year's trip to Africa moved to The Gambia with Grandmaster Famoudou Konate himself, the last living, working master from his generation. Possibly the last chance students have to learn from him.
DrumConnection's long-standing history of bridging cultures through music is still going strong.
Our success has had a lot to do with being able to see what each student needed from a drum course. What were the things that we could do to make their understanding and musical ability flourish? I was with filled rooms of future drummers and I needed to be able to reach everybody. Since I am naturally gifted with seeing too much, it was my passion to help every person attain their goals.
Store hours are noon to 6 pm Tuesday through Sunday and many nights till 9 pm, so call us first at 781-316-8068. Find us online at drumconnection.com
DrumConnection is a treasure trove of high quality and professional percussion, accessories, ancient African masks and cloth, grain doors almost 100 years old, and even modern percussion as drum kits, cymbals, bass drums...everything for the modern drummer. We are also the go-to place for drum repair in Boston. We stock Guinean cowhides and goat skins, and other skins as well, including the plastic ones, and have professional drum makers on staff ready to help.
Our drum classes run seven nights a week with an emphasis on the development of the drummer, as well as having a blast while doing it. We all become close and it's always a caring group. Specialty workshops are every other week or more often. Drum circles are twice a month on Fridays.