Drumming has taught me so much about myself. I have learned that although I enjoy a drum circle every know and then, what I truly desire is to learn traditional rhythms. The rhythms of the Malinke people of West Africa that we hear about in Roots; the miniseries based on Alex Haley's book telling the story of an African teen Kunta Kinte, brought to America to be enslaved, and the generations of his family. I have learned that these rhythms, many of which are centuries old, are rich in culture and unchanged in the remote villages of Guinea, West Africa. These rhythms and interpretation of the dance and song are very meaningful to me.
When I bought my first drum, I asked the store owner where I could learn to play. He did not know of any djembe teacher, anywhere. I looked everywhere and was fortunate to find ethical local teachers right here in CT who were all students of Abdoulaye Sylla, Les Ballets Africains and Michael Markus, of Wula Drum NY/Conakry. What good fortune for me in finding these teachers, Rick Leigl, Kendrick (Tyron) Baker and Matt Dean, who are all responsible for shaping my appreciation for traditional West African music and my desire to visit the birth place of these rhythms.
I started to drum and found many of my inner most struggles right there on the head of my djembe. What? Drumming taught me to overcome and face my fears. This included silly things like fear of public transportation, traveling to countries that don't speak my language and fear of public speaking (solos). The djembe taught me that when the desire is great enough you will face your fears and plow through them. Trust me it doesn't happen over night.
This is my the story of my personal journey with the djembe. Thank you Michael Pluznick for your support and encouraging me to open this blog.