Yesterday I was at a Beat Meet with drumming friends and I ended up using the 6 years I spent getting Congolese Conga Rhythms to teach people who wanted the information and practice. When I knew the congolese class was fading and about to end, I remember thinking everything I had worked hard to learn was now completely useless.
I knew that the long and painful struggle I had gone through to build my skills effectively had given me a good base for learning any kind of percussion. I never imagined that people would actually want to learn the actual congolese rhythms and how they fit together. It was a moment of grace, and I have gratitude for it.
Much of what I learned during the 6 years was not about the rhythms but how to deal with human situations in relation to drumming. Human beings as a rule are vulnerable and they don’t like to show it, so there is a lot of bullshit behavior to try and cover that vulnerability, make it look like something else, and put the blame on others.
What is good now is that what I learned is really solid, and I chose not to make it into some big grandiose deal, just worked hard to learn it in a way I could keep forever. AndI have moved further into latin percussion, always remembering how impossible it seemed for me to learn the congolese patterns in the beginning and all along. I proved over and over again that “Difficult” is not “Impossible.”