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An eight-week workshop that will help hone your  drumming skills

OLD-wives-tales say that if you can count to four, you can play the drums. Still, to get a proper handle on drumming techniques and skills, you might want to register for an eight-week workshop on the Djembe starting this weekend. You will not only learn to play the goblet-shaped instrument with confidence, but you will also learn the finer points of drumming and how to integrate your skills with a group and other instruments.

Percussion party
The classes will be conducted by city-based percussionist Ashok Kumar who started with the tabla, and then moved to the djembe — a West African instrument traditionally made from hollowed-out trees called Dimba. The djembe (pronounced JEM-bay) is possibly one of the most versatile percussion instruments on the planet, its origin dating back to the 12th century. Its widespread popularity is down to the fact that it can create an unusually wide range of pitches, namely the bass (low), tone (medium) and slap (high). These sounds are simply created by striking different areas of the djembe skin with the hands. Kumar has experimented with Carnatic, Hindustani and even dabbled with electronic fusion in the past. He also works with Shoonya – a fusion group in the city. “The djembe is easier to learn, when compared to the tabla,” he enthuses, adding, “the tabla might take you at least six months just to get the basics in place, but the djembe is more straight forward, and you don’t have to be a music prodigy to play it either.” He adds that he is keen on popularising it in India, outside the usual corporate shows and fusion gigs in the city.

Drop a beat
The classes are well structured.  From understanding the rhythm and basic techniques to learning  to play simple bass, you will gradually be taught to add different African rhythms before learning to integrate with a group. As you get more comfortable, you will learn to mix in Indian elements and more complex sounds, creating your own solo while connecting with the drum. At the end of the sixth week, you will have created your own signature style and be able to seamlessly integrate your playing into a drum circle. It ends with a solo performance of your composition in front of an audience.

Rs. 8,000. Weekends, starting May 10, 9.30 am. At Jain College, Jayanagar. Details: 9739268197

—Avinash Kumai

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