Today at Congolese class I elected myself Kingoli queen for the day. This is because I can do the thumping base #1 Kingoli rhythm better than anyone else in the class, including the visiting son of one of the dancers who is a professional drummer. I can do it longer with ease, steadier, more solid. I’ve worked for that and I was sweating today but not straining. The Kingoli base rhythm is stupidly simple: Base, tone tone! But keeping it up, imbuing it with energy on each stroke, not rushing it, and not lagging, not playing it too hard and pounding through it takes a lot more drumming moxie than one would think. I can play it softly and clearly without muddying it up and running it together.
I’m now ok with the fact that I have to note my own accomplishments and not expect any praise or attention from others including the master teacher. What has happened is that I have developed an ability to hear myself and know I stack up better than I used to. Today we reviewed something that is not a repetitive rhythm pattern which I know pretty well but there are some spots that have faded. And our teacher switches tracks here and there, so it can be a struggle and yet where he is good he is really good.
A drumming student who has been uncommitted and erratic in attending though she has talent and physical stamina is now coming more regularly and it’s good to have her. And still she flies the class coop early, telling me and herself a bunch of excuses as to why she can’t invest more time playing for the dancers. What she is really doing is passing up the free and rare opportunity before her to play more so she can actually settle in, know the rhythms better and make more progress. And yet I am perfectly happy not saying that to her because it won’t change how she feels.
Yet I’m wondering how long I am going to keep on being in a drumming life where the drumming and social cohesion/contact is so low. I know the drumming situation reflects the same thing in the rest of my life because I am isolated and stuck in a situation that needs changing on so many levels- relationship, work, physical health, etc. And yet I’m so much better off than I have been for many years. The drumming class and group has improved on a certain energy level and technique, it used to really suck. And I would hate it and everyone and then have to fight to pray it away so I could continue and maintain a positive attitude. I feel my efforts have not been wasted and I’ve finally found some harvest.