After independence in 1958 Guinea severed ties with France and turned to the Soviet Union. The first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, pursued a revolutionary socialist agenda and crushed political opposition. Tens of thousands of people disappeared, or were tortured and executed, during his 26-year regime.
Economic mismanagement and repression culminated in riots in 1977. These led to some relaxation of state control of the economy. But it was only after the death in 1984 of Ahmed Sekou Toure, and the seizure of power by Lansana Conte and other officers, that the socialist experiment was abandoned - without reversing poverty.
In 2000 Guinea became home to up to half a million refugees fleeing fighting in Sierra Leone and Liberia. This increased the strain on its economy and generated suspicion and ethnic tension, amid mutual accusations of attempts at destabilisation and border attacks.
Acute economic problems, instability among its neighbours and uncertainty over a successor to its authoritarian president have prompted a European think-tank, the Crisis Group, to warn that Guinea risks becoming a "failed state".
The average wage in Guinea is $55 per month, and unemployment stands at 45%. Electricity is available just one day a week in most neighbourhoods in the capital of Conakry, and the infrastructure generally is collapsing.
Guinea, however, sits on incredible wealth. In a country about half the size of Oregon lies half the world’s known reserves of bauxite, used in aluminum production; the third-biggest supply of gold and diamonds in Africa; and deposits of uranium — not to mention some of the finest agricultural land on the continent and possible oil deposits offshore.
These riches make Guinea a focus of what’s been called the new scramble for Africa — bids by US, European and Chinese multinational corporations to grab strategic resources and carve out spheres of influence.
Despite his failing health, in December 2003, President Conte easily won a third presidential term against a single, relatively unknown candidate after the opposition parties boycotted the
elections. Conte insisted in a late 2006 interview that regardless of his health he would remain in office until his term ended in 2010.
In 2006 and 2007, Guinea's labor union alliance launched a series of historic, increasingly violent labor strikes. Whereas the unions' demands during the March and June 2006 strikes were primarily economic, the January 2007 strike was more political. Security forces were responsible for the deaths of several protesters in June 2006. The 2007 strike also turned violent after President Conte ignored the unions’ demand that he resign from office. Nationwide, protesters began barricading roads, throwing rocks, burning tires, and skirmishing with police. Violence peaked on January 22 when several thousand ordinary Guineans poured into the streets, primarily in the capital, calling for change. Guinean security forces and the military's "red beret" presidential guard reacted by opening fire on the peaceful crowds.
On January 27, 2007, unions, employers associations, and the government entered a tripartite agreement to suspend the strike. President Conte agreed to name a new "consensus" prime minister,
with delegated executive powers. For the first time, the new prime minister of Guinea would carry the title of "head of government" and exercise certain powers previously held by the
president of the republic. However, President Conte's February 9 appointment of a longtime associate, Eugene Camara, as Guinea's new prime minister sparked another wave of violence and
protests. In an attempt to quell the violence, on February 12 President Conte declared a "state of siege," which conferred broad powers on the military, and implemented a strict curfew.
According to media reports, the following days saw military and police forces scour Conakry and towns in the hinterlands where they committed serious human rights abuses.
When Guinea's National Assembly rejected Conte's effort to extend the "state of siege," it became clear that the popular protests had widespread support, even among leaders of Conte's own ruling party. Soon after, an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation led by former Nigerian President Babangida announced that President Conte had agreed to name a new "consensus" prime minister in consultations with the unions and civil society. Lansana Kouyate arrived in Conakry on February 27, 2007, just hours after being announced as the new Prime Minister and head of the government. Security forces are believed responsible for having killed at least 137 people and injuring more than 1,700 others during the strike-related violence in January and February 2007.
During his premiership, Kouyate faced constant speculation that the president and his associates opposed his reform efforts. His failure to alleviate social and economic conditions contributed to the steady decline of his popularity. In May 2008, President Conte replaced Kouyate with Ahmed Tidiane Souare, a former minister of mines from a previous cabinet. The Souare administration quickly began to reinstate presidential loyalists. President Conte's death on December 22, 2008 sparked an immediate coup d’etat by elements of the military.
Captain Moussa Dadis Camara seized power on December 23, 2008, declaring himself President of the Republic and suspending the constitution, but promising elections and an eventual restoration
of civilian authority. By August 2009, it was increasingly clear that Camara intended to run for president. In response, Guinea’s opposition coalition, Les Forces Vives, organized a protest
on September 28, 2009, which attracted tens of thousands of protesters to the national stadium in Conakry. The Guinean military responded by opening fire on the crowd, killing at least 157
protesters, wounding more than a 1,000 others, and sexually assaulting more than 100 women, triggering widespread condemnation from the international community and increasing isolation for
the junta. On December 3, 2009, Camara was wounded by his aide-de-camp in a failed assassination attempt and evacuated to Morocco for medical treatment. National Council for Democracy and
Development (CNDD) Minister of Defense Brigadier General Sekouba Konate stepped in as interim President of the Republic. Camara’s wounds were not fatal, but necessitated a prolonged period of
Camara was flown to Ouagadougou in January 2010, at the invitation of Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore, the ECOWAS-appointed mediator to the Guinean political crisis. Compaore helped broker a deal between Camara and Konate, known as the January 15 Ouagadougou Accords, in which Camara agreed to remain outside of Guinea for an extended recuperation and to officially appoint General Konate as the interim President of the Republic. Konate appointed former speaker for Les Forces Vives, Jean Marie Dore, as Prime Minister. In February, Dore formed a government that included 11 ministers from political parties, 11 from civil society, and 11 from the junta government. In addition, a National Transition Council (CNT) consisting of 150 members from civil society, labor unions, political parties, the private sector, security forces, and other important organizations, was formed to act as the legislative body until legislative elections could be held. The CNT rewrote and enacted the constitution in March. It also enacted new electoral and media codes.
On June 27, Guinea had its first round of presidential elections, with 24 candidates running for the office of President. As per the Ouagadougou Accords, no member of the military or the
transition government ran in the elections. International and national observer groups declared the elections credible and fair, though they cited major technical problems that needed to be
addressed before the second round could credibly take place. Cellou Dalein Diallo of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) party received 43% of the vote; Alpha Conde of the Rally
for the Guinean People (RPG) party received 18%; and Sidya Toure of the Union of Republican Forces (UFR) party received 13%. Diallo and Conde went on to compete in the second round of
elections that, after several delays, took place on November 7. In the weeks leading up to and immediately after the elections, ethnic violence broke out between the Peuhl and Malinke support
bases of the two candidates, resulting in several hundred internally displaced people and at least a dozen deaths. The transition government imposed a state of emergency and imposed a curfew,
which successfully stopped the violence.
On December 2, the Guinean Supreme Court determined Alpha Conde the winner of the elections with 53% of the vote, which was declared free and credible by international observer missions. On
December 3, Cellou Diallo publicly accepted the results of the election and called for his supporters to support the newly elected president. President Conde was peacefully inaugurated on
December 21, 2010. On December 24, Mohamed Said Fofana, an economist, was appointed as Guinea’s Prime Minister.
After inauguration, the government lifted security checkpoints throughout the country. Following a July 19, 2011 attack on the president’s personal residence, the government temporarily reinstated the checkpoints, citing security concerns. By the end of July the checkpoints were reduced to operating during the hours of 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Although legislative elections were mandated to take place 6 months after the completion of presidential elections, as of November 2011 legislative elections had not yet been held. The Independent National Commission for Elections announced that elections would take place on December 29, 2011, but election experts and outside observers stated that the commission’s timeline was unrealistic and elections would not take place in 2011.
In late February/early March 2013, opposition supporters took to the streets of Conakry to protest against the government’s alleged attempts to rig the May elections in 2013. The opposition coalition withdrew from the electoral process in mid-February, mainly due to President Conde's insistence on using a suspicious South African firm Waymark Infotech to draw up the registered voter list. The ensuing violence resulted in at least nine deaths and hundreds injured, many from the brutality of the security forces who reportedly used live fire to disperse some of the crowds.
Recent History in Guinea
GUINEA: Obstacles, omens and opportunities
President Alpha Condé: Promising to steer a new course for GuineaDAKAR, 21 March 2011 (IRIN) - Alpha Condé, a former student activist, trade unionist, radical publisher, lecturer, political prisoner and exiled opposition leader, finally took over the presidency of Guinea at 72.
Sworn in on 2 December 2010 before 13 African heads of state, Condé promised: "I say loud and clear: poverty and underdevelopment in the Republic of Guinea does not to have to be our destiny."
But Condé admits to having inherited empty state coffers and daunting social and economic problems. The prices of key commodities have risen sharply in the markets of Conakry. A sack of rice that was about 175,000 Guinean francs (US$23) before the elections is now 280,000 francs ($36). The government imported 35 tons of rice, which sold for 160,000 francs a sack, but supplies were limited. There have been similar rises in commodities such as sugar and peanut oil. Ironically, as Guinea loses its pariah status and attempts to become a functioning democracy, living costs are increasing and patience is being severely tested.
"There has been no change yet," says Mariame Sacko, out shopping in the market. "We are in a difficult position. You can see for yourself that everything in the market is expensive."
Yolande Guilavogui agrees. "Prices have more than doubled, but you don't see any increase in salaries. If it continues like that, we find ourselves risking being put in the street."
The price hikes have been blamed in some quarters on local traders, overwhelmingly from the Peul community, engaging in profiteering. But there have been warnings too of a dangerous simplification of complex problems.
"People are engaging in a false debate," a local journalist told IRIN. "How can people say that it is bureau de change owners [accused of currency speculation] and Peul traders [one of the two big ethnic groups] who are responsible for inflation and rocketing prices in the market?"
He accused Condé and his supporters of allowing Peul traders to be made scapegoats. He pointed out that Condé's election campaign had focused strongly on the poor governance and mishandling of the economy under previous regimes, but once in office Condé had chosen former ministers of the same discredited administrations.
Ministers have also publicized budgetary problems from the previous administrations, hinting at profligacy and a lack of accountability on the part of the previous military leaders in charge. A Conakry-based diplomat acknowledged that "the financial situation is even worse than Condé and his colleagues had feared".
Inclusion or division?
The challenges go well beyond a bruised economy. While the elections won by Condé were markedly freer and fairer than any held previously, they were marred by ominous outbreaks of violence between the Peul and Malinké. Condé and his party, the Rassemblement du Peuple de Guinée (RPG), faced persistent accusations from opponents of playing the ethnic card and mobilizing a coalition to block the political advancement of the Peul, in this case represented by defeated candidate, former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of the Union des forces démocratiques de Guinée (UFDG) from the Peul heartland of Fouta Djallon, or Moyenne Guinée.
While Condé's speeches have highlighted the need for inclusivity and an end to sectarianism, there has been no easy accommodation with the opposition. Diallo has repeated accusations that Condé is far from being a peacemaker and unifier, and has demanded wholesale changes in the Commission Electorale nationale Indépendante (CENI) before legislative elections can take place.
Senior human rights activist Thierno Madjou Sow, who is president of the Organization Guinéene de Défense des Droits de l'homme (OGDH), acknowledges that Condé had inherited a country where education, health, infrastructure and public administration have been allowed to go into steep decline and was "starting from zero".
However, for Sow Condé's pledges on change counted for little so far. "We are all used to speeches," Sow told IRIN. "But we have seen no real signals from Condé. We want concrete measures.
Impunity is the norm; perpetrators of past violence and human rights violations have gone unpunished, including those responsible for massive human rights violations "It should be remembered that we came close to a situation of genocide in the last elections," Sow told IRIN. He cited in particular areas such as Siguri in the northeast, "where thousands of people whose families had lived there for over 100 years were forced to flee because they were no longer seen as Guineans".
A report by the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide after a mission to Guinea in March 2010 offered a bleak account of past atrocities and the state's inability deal with them effectively. "Impunity is the norm; perpetrators of past violence and human rights violations have gone unpunished, including those responsible for massive human rights violations committed during the previous regimes of Sékou Touré and Lansana Conté."
Sow said nothing had changed with the election of Condé. "Look at the events of September 28, 2009, when you had hundreds of people killed at the stadium, thousands more injured, women and girls raped and killed in public. But it's as if nothing happened." Sow says despite the interest of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the support of other bodies, the Guinean government was doing little to bring the perpetrators of the stadium massacre to justice.
What to do with soldiers?
A major concern for both civil society activists and international partners is the continuing strength of the military. But as the International Crisis Group (ICG) noted in a report, Reforming the Army, issued in September 2010, restructuring and scaling down the armed forces will not be easy. "The army's well-deserved reputation for indiscipline and resistance to democratic civilian rule is a product of its troubled past," the ICG warned. Successive regimes have built up their own patronage networks, often favouring troops from their own ethnic group and/or home region, or recruiting from outside. As the ICG pointed out, Guinea plays host to "multiple militias and irregulars".
Where is the wealth?
Despite the country's mineral wealth, Guinea came 156th out of 169 in the UN Development Programme's Human Development Index (HDI) for 2010. Development analysts are quick to concede there is no prospect of the country meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There is a unique opportunity to make more of Guinea's resources, particularly bauxite and iron ore. But there are obvious caveats about corporate interests and Guinea's own priorities and the extent to which partnerships that look lucrative on paper will deliver employment, amenities and major new revenue streams.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development's (IFAD) Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP) for 2009-2014 highlights key priorities for the 75 percent of the population in rural areas: only 1.2 million hectares of land cultivated when 6.2 million ha should be available; the low levels of mechanization and agro-inputs; the small size and non-sustainability of farms; the high level of post-harvest losses and the weakness of local market systems. Condé's campaign speeches made frequent references to the need for food self-sufficiency in Guinea and a steady move away from food imports, but Guineans point out that that is contingent on significantly improving productivity.
Helen Keller International People are hungry for change, and just plain hungry Child nutrition remains a major problem, as are maternal and infant mortality. Helen Keller International (HKI), a long-established NGO in Guinea, has attributed 18 percent of maternal deaths and 23 percent of peri-natal deaths to anaemia, and warned of the continuing dangers of Vitamin A deficiency. An under-resourced health service has struggled to work effectively against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. The severe flooding in September 2010 exposed the fragility of the water system, leaving thousands vulnerable to water-borne diseases.
Condé's early focus on social and humanitarian issues has been applauded by Guinea's aid partners, but there are also longstanding concerns about capacity and funding. Speaking from Kankan in eastern Guinea, the head of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Guinea, Julien Harnais, said initial signals were promising. "On the positive side, there is a government that is concerned about the population," Harnais told IRIN. "The challenge the country is going to have is in converting good intentions into good results for kids."
The wealth of Guinea's resources has been repeatedly documented. In addition to the huge reserves of iron ore and bauxite, there are large deposits of diamonds and gold, as well as titanium, manganese, copper, nickel, zircon, platinum and uranium. "There are a lot of companies coming in, but we must choose those that can really bring something to Guinea," Condé has emphasized. "It is for us to defend our own interests, to create competition between different interests and work out who is bringing most to Guinea."
Condé has been circumspect about the government's approach to investors, telling reporters: "There will be three to five difficult months, since we've decided not to renegotiate contracts but instead to define a new mining policy."
At a recent meeting in Conakry, the Publish What You Pay coalition argued for communities in mining areas to be directly involved in discussions on contracts. Civil society activists hope that Guinea's renewed membership of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) may help create more transparency and accountability. Whatever corporate players come and go, small-scale artisanal mining will remain a crucial, if modest, source of income for large sections of the population.
Artisanal mining has been practised since at least the 12th century and offers a modest livelihood to hundreds of thousands of Guineans today, particularly in the northeastern gold belt region of Haute-Guinée and in the riverbeds and other alluvial sites in the southeast. Conditions remain precarious. A technical mission by the Blacksmith Institution and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in 2006 warned of serious safety and sanitation concerns and suggested artisanal mining in Guinea was a long way behind other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, describing the gold processing methods used as "the most primitive ones on the planet".
Guinea has the world's largest deposits of bauxite, accounting for more than one-third of the world's known reserves. Bauxite and alumina constitute about 60 percent of exports and generate a quarter of the country's tax revenues. Production was initially dominated by a French company, Pechiney Ugine, but others from North America, Russia, Australia and the Middle East have become involved.
As the International Monetary Fund () has noted, "Annual production of bauxite is very low considering the proven reserves," while the sector's contribution to GDP and taxes has declined. Factors behind this under-achievement include: taxation problems, difficulties in relations between governments and corporations and a weak investment climate.
Given that a ton of alumina (aluminium oxide) is worth more than 10 times a ton of bauxite, industry analysts have long argued for sustained investment in the domestic transformation of bauxite to alumina. Finally, this looks likely to happen, with several new projects at various stages of development.
Guinea is reported to have more than four billion tons of high-grade iron ore. The main deposits are in the Simandou hills, near Nzérékoré in the southeastern Guinée Forestière region, and at Kalia, 360km east of Conakry, just north of Guinea's border with Sierra Leone.
For gold, the open-pit Siguiri gold mine 850km northeast of Conakry has a proven reserve of about 60 million tons. Relations with the previous government proved difficult at times but South African group AngloGold says it is optimistic about the new administration. The other major gold-producing belt is the Lefa Corridor, 700km northeast of Conakry.
Diamond production has risen and fallen in recent years, but Guinea can normally be expected to produce at least 500,000 carats, while total reserves are estimated at between 20 and 25 million carats. As with the gold sector, artisanal mining dominates, with thousands working in the riverbeds in the southeast.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
The material contained in this article is from IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
DrumConnection Boston, MA 02474 ph: (001) 781-316-8068
Mailing address: DrumConnection PO Box 1311 Arlington, MA 02427
5.0 star rating Yelp!
This place should be called, "percussion heaven". You can find every sort of percussion instrument and accessory here, all in one place. The staff is very friendly, knowledgable and helpful. They have professional djembes and dunun . They also sponsor local drum circles and have drum classes with the very talented owner as well as master drummers from around the globe. They also offer a wide variety of CD's. One of the best shops ever!
San Rafael, CA
5.0 star rating
5.0 star rating 2/9/2017
I was thrilled to find that this store doesn't just have hand drums, but is also well-stocked with hardware and parts for rock drum kits. And if they don't stock something you need, they'll order it for you or point you in the right direction.
Alan, the owner, is extremely knowledgeable and helpful if I have questions or need advice. When I came in last year wanting to restore my vintage kit, I had no idea where to start, and Alan helped me through the entire process, from cleaning, de-rusting, to finding missing parts. Whenever I have a problem with my kit or something breaks, I always go to Alan first (it's a good idea to call the store to see when he's working!) Often he'll find a way to fix it without having to purchase new parts.
Definitely recommend this gem over bigger places like Guitar Center.
5.0 star rating
Jan 22, 2017
"Hi Alan, Eddie & I LOVED Nancy's classes. We stopped going because it was dark & cold & late & it was the only time we could both make it ( I work nites ) but we plan to resume classes probably in the spring. I miss it. Rochelle"
5.0 star rating
Purchased beautiful instruments...
I recommend the workshops to all my college student studying world music in the classroom. We've also purchased beautiful instruments I use in my teaching. People marvel at their sound and touch.
5.0 star rating
So much fun...
Participating in a beginners drumming series was so much fun, and I was surprised at what they were able to teach us! We plan to go back as soon as our schedule allow a steady attendance.
5.0 star rating
Just bought my 3rd instrument from this store. Always a pleasure to do business with DrumConnection, and home to a great community of drummers.
5.0 star rating
Honest, original voice...
Way back in 2011, I wrote and published a feature story about Alan Tauber and DrumConnection. Read it at YourArlington
Nothing that has occurred since would cause me to change my mind about Alan and his business: He's an honest, original voice in a fast-changing town, offering a rhythm that is hard to beat.
5.0 star rating
Always a great experience...
Alan is always a pleasure to do business with. He is knowledgeable and very kind. The classes they have are fun and very informative. Always a great experience.
Redington Beach, FL
Alan's knowledge is vast...
I needed to replace the head on a djembe. I live on the south shore of MA, and was having a hard time finding a place to do the job. I discovered the DrumConnection through a list serve and found the best resource I could hope for. Alan's knowledge is vast, and the service was done professionally, on time, and at a reasonable price. I do not need to look any further for my hand drumming needs.
It is a privilege to know you...
You play such an important part in drumming education in this country. It is a privilege to know you...
Name withheld upon request.
(but a famous dude in percussion).
Great Local Place, Great Stuff, Nice People
Bought a present for a friend and they had just what I wanted. They helped me pick the right one. Weren't pushy. Really nice vibe. Will definitely go back when I need a drum or a present for someone.
5/16/2016 5.0 stars! Yelp!
DrumConnection is great! Excellent teachers, extremely high quality guest drummers from Africa, and female teachers and leaders.
5/15/2016 5.0 stars!
Thank you Alan, Thierno, Audrey, Issa and Moussa!
At DrumConnection, I began my beginners' class feeling lost and insecure. However, while the drum is quite challenging, I have felt more and more connected to the group thanks to the wonderful teachers, and the kindness and acceptance of other drummers.
In other words I am deeply indebted and grateful for the opportunity to expand my skills, horizons, and sense of belonging thanks to the drum. The ongoing learning experience is challenging, exhilarating and humbling. Thank you Alan, Thierno, Audrey, Issa and Moussa, and thank you to all my fellow students!
5/13/2016 5.0 stars!
Thanks so much. Tuned up my kids drum, very knowledgeable and friendly!
4/28/2016 5.0 stars!
Love DrumConnection in Arlington!
Great teachers including the Masters from West Africa; great drums (all kinds) and accessories. Director and owner, Alan, is an excellent drummer himself, friends to all and always willing to share his knowledge. Classes & Workshops at all levels challenging and tons of fun. Serious drumming going on here!
4/27/2016 5.0 stars!
Knowledgeable, and very helpful.
I watched Alan help a gentleman trying to rent an accordion. Yes, this sounds like a Seinfeld script, but it was touching seeing Alan help someone out. Additionally, the store is well supplied, and the prices are quote reasonable for being able to get your hands on what you need right now. Truly, an asset to the community!
Brian C. J.
April 9, 2016, 1:47 p.m.
Friends cannot believe how light it is and how good it sounds. Easy for me to carry. It is also very nice looking, not ornate, just beautiful wooden swirls. Thanks for all your help on this..... kdl
4/10/16 ; 5 Stars
I have spent several wonderful weekends at DrumConnection studying drumming rhythms with various master drummers (djembefolas) and I just want to thank Alan and the wonderful community of people I met at there for a wonderful, fun, inspiring and informative time. If I didn't live on Long Island, NY I would be there every week. 5 star rating from me!
Long Island, NY
2/24/2016 : 5 Stars!
DrumConnection is a wonderful place. Alan is so helpful, thoughtful and kind. The store has a great selection of drums that will help you connect to music from all over the world. Highly recommended!
Jan. 16, 2016 : 5 Stars!
Great experience, no pressure to buy or spend more than I wanted to, just the perfect assistance to help me find the right drum for me - a clear joy for drumming and very welcoming - made me feel right at home.
12/22/2015 : 5 Stars!
A great little store
I was looking for some nifty percussion accessories for my son-in-law and I really didn't want to go the the Guitar Center. What a great place! I got great advice & was able to find exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for! A perfect shopping trip & well worth the weekly trip down from Cape Ann!
Cape Ann, MA
5.0 star rating 12/6/2015 Yelp!
I took a beginner drum class here this fall. I was impressed by the business's connection to West African drumming. Thierno, a drummer from Guinea, was our teacher. If you want to learn drumming, have a weekly class with lots of laughing and meet people from around the world this place is for you.
5.0 Star Rating 12/4/15 Google+
Alan the owner is always friendly and helpful. When I was looking for a drum, he chose 4 drums he thought I might like, each unique. He helped me sort out the differences to find the combination of pluses that added up to the perfect drum for me.
Alan the teacher is a non-judgmental, supportive, and clear instructor whose decades of experience and amazing skill as a drummer combine to provide a safe and inspiring learning environment. I've studied with four other DrumConnection instructors and each is excellent in his or her own ways, and all certified by examination.
A great store and a wonderful school. I recommend it without reservations.
11/15/2015 5.0 Yelp!
The beginner drum class was extra special. Taught by Thierno Keita-what a wonderful escape each week from the work-a-day world into a world of rhythm and movement. Great for the brain and the soul. Alan Tauber, who runs the Drum Connection could not be kinder or more devoted to his art. This has been a postive turn for me and I will continue on this road with pleasure.
5.0 star rating 11/11/2015
DrumConnection is an nook of musical magic on Mass Ave in Arlington. The drumming teachers are from Africa, they sponsor workshops and trips to Africa to learn drumming. Alan the owner is very flexible and understanding with scheduling lessons. The drum selection is fantastic!! I recommend it to everyone I know. What a gem!
5.0 star rating 11/9/2015 Yelp!
Broad selection of percussion instruments from all over the world. Alan, the owner, really knows a lot about the instruments and the music they make.
5.0 star rating 11/7/2015 Yelp!
We have purchased many instruments from Alan. He knows so much about percussion instruments that we trust him with ordering sight unseen and have been pleased with our purchases. Prices are very reasonable. We drive 2 hours each way to shop at the Drum Connection and it is worth it.
5.0 star rating 11/6/2015 Yelp!
You will not find a more beautiful person than Alan to assit you with your journey of learning the drums. I have traveled with Alan to Guinea, purchased various drums, and attended numerous classes. Have not been able to find the joy I felt when I was involved with the Drum Connection. Please open a southern location!
5.0 star rating 10/5/2015 Yelp!
The drum I purchased from Alan several years ago is both beautiful and is a joy to use. The classes are fantastic -- designed for all skills levels and taught by master teachers that are knowledgeable and exciting.
They are patient and know how to break rhythms down to bite size. I have enrolled my 4 year old in the children's drum class and it is dynamic -- teaching movement and African songs. She loves it and loves her teachers."
5.0 star rating 10/19/2015 Yelp!
The Best! Thanks!
Purchased my djembe here a few years ago, just bought new skin, Alan and staff always knowledgeable and helpful.
5.0 star rating 8/29/2015 Yelp!
I am new to drumming and am having a ball. I went to a Sunday night lecture and lesson on one type of drums and followed that with 2 Sunday night drumming circles with an excellent teacher-but not at the rank beginner level. Still, I loved it and just tried to follow and keep up.
Now I am in a beginner class and I am still enjoying every minute. Alan is a kind and welcoming person. He coordinates to bring in a variety of excellent teachers and classes take place most every day of the week. He gives great advice about what to purchase and has rentals available. Come join the fun!
5.0 star rating 8/24/2015 Yelp!
This is a great little shop. Alan was able to rent me some drums for my autism caregivers retreat and was very accommodating. The drums were gorgeous, beautiful sound. Our group had a great time thanks to Drum Connection coming through at the last minute for me. Thank you!
June 25, 2015
5.0 star rating Excellent Teaching!
This is the first time I took drum lessons. I have taken piano lessons off and on for years. I really enjoy playing the drums. I had two teachers. They both had their individual style of teaching. I found that Alan is an excellent teacher. I would recommend anyone with a desire to learn drumming to check out DrumConnection. I haven't gone to their drum circle yet, but that's the next step for me. I am finishing up my first six weeks of classes, two more classes to go.
August 4, 2015
5.0 star rating 8/4/2015 Yelp!
I'm new to the djembe and drum circles in general. The drum circle I attended last week was a blast. Very relaxed and friendly, the drumming was amazing. Alan and Fanta were both very warm and welcoming. As others have noted, great energy. I'm definitely going back.
July 6, 2015
5.0 star rating Incredible Drums!
I returned to the store today to purchase my first djembe. Alan was more than helpful. He gave a mini-lesson on the spot so I would know how to evaluate the variety of drums, their tonal differences, etc. He also played several of them for me to have a better impression of what it sounds like once technique is mastered. The drum I finally settled on is incredible, love it. My wife was looking for a bodhran, and he gave demonstrations of those as well!
July 8, 2015
Way better than 5 stars!
Alan clearly loves what he is doing and it shows in the friendly, professional and deeply knowledgeable service. Way better than 5 stars.
June 10, 2015
Alan was so helpful. He came highly recommended, and lived up to it. I got a wonderful drum for my nephew - have not yet given it to him, but he is going to love it.
April 8, 2015
Five stars all the way!
Honestly, I can't say enough good things about DrumConnection. Alan and John helped me pick out the perfect drum, and when I came in tonight, Alan talked with me for at least an hour about technique, the history of the djembe coming to America, and more. The place is warm and inviting, and the people who work there are the same. I am confident I chose the best place to start my drumming journey, and I will be back for their classes! Five stars all the way!
March 7, 2015
My son is now starting drum lessons. We stopped in to purchase a drum pad and drum sticks. This is an amazing store. There is much to learn about choosing an instrument that suits you...and we were encouraged not to rush in and spend a lot of money at this stage. The store is packed with drums (mostly hand drums) and each visitor is encouraged to try out items that spark their interest. While visiting, my son tried several thumb pianos as well.
March 6, 2015
Fanta lead our group of 21 drummers thru two hours of song, dance, and drumming. Everybody was smiling at the end of the evening. What a deal for 10 bucks!
February 24, 2015
Drum Connection is a fantastic place to take African drumming lessons, meet some wonderful people and really expand your horizons by attending workshops with master drummers from West Africa. It's been a life changing experience for me. I am so blessed to part of Alan and Fanta's community.
February 13, 20115
As always Alan was right there to make sure I got exactly what I was looking for. He even sent me a photo/text to confirm that he had the correct size, shape and sound of rattle I needed. This was that perfect combination of personal service and immediate results.
February 5, 2015
Hey just wanted to write you a note to tell you how much I absolutely love the drum! It was the perfect choice for me. The slaps are just incredible and yet it gives good bass response. I brought it to work to play with the children and it was just such the perfect instrument. It’s just the right one for me and I'm really thrilled with it. Thanks so much.
January 24, 2015
Thanks Alan for your undivided attention today as I purchased the replacement head for the djembe I had previously bought at DrumConnection. Could not be more satisfied!