I saw an exercise machine online yesterday that costs nearly a grand. A person using it stands on a small, foot sized base and it vibrates the plate under the feet so that the legs and tissue of the lower body shakes from side to side. And there was all this hype about how it moves lymph and toxins out of the body, etc, which is not a lie but the same thing can be accomplished shimmying bellydance style with no machine.
Or with standing up to play drums and stepping, swaying, bending at the knees and bouncing with the knees bent. I was working on that yesterday as I drummed for dancers. I had my conga in a basket rack borrowed and was standing up to drum, which is not what I usually do. The rack was adjusted for my friend and not me. It was too low and I had to bend my knees and widen my stance not to hunch over. Even with that I was really tired after drumming for 3 hours.
Today I got my first basket rack and adjusted it for my best comfort, which places the drum head of my conga between my sternum and my navel. The guy at California Percussion put it together for me, and then I got the little wrench that comes with it and adjusted it, lowering it 4 notches on all three legs. When you sit playing a conga or djembe, you have to tip the bottom to hear the base notes. Even though I got tired yesterday and sat down, I like the rack better than sitting because it sounds way better. It took me years when I was first playing the djembe to get to where I wasn’t fighting to keep the darn thing from falling over and locking my legs around it. If you are playing for more than a few minutes, you need to be relaxed, and if your drum is in danger of falling, that’s a near impossibility. Some drummers, like the congolese guys with the big N’gomas, either have straps tied around the drum and their waist or straps hooked to the drumstrings.
I’ve been wanting a rack for awhile and made several attempts to get one, only to be confused about what kind would work, the different models and it just not happening. Now I love my new basket rack, which has rubber tips on the ends of it’s 3 tripod legs, is black plastic coated steel, and has a sextagonal shape where the body of the conga sits. It’s adjustable with screws and bolts and notches. My plan is now to actually practice at home, learn and get very comfortable with moving while I play. Like anything else worth learning in relation to drumming, it will take some time and a lot of discomfort, but it will be worth it.