Today I was drumming in my congolese class and enjoyed my skill, speed, stamina, and exact knowledge of the rhythm material. I ought to, I’ve spent years getting it, 4 to be exact and it didn’t come easily. There have been so many times I have been really angry, frustrated and upset, stuck in futility and despair around the difficulty of getting along with people in the class and the struggle to learn.
I can now stand up, drum and move my body while I am playing- My movements are bobbing, swinging, undulating, rotating my hips , whatever I can do while using my arms and hands to play on the beat. My feet are firmly planted and my body, finally more flexible and stronger from spin classes, is dancing. Most of what I do are in time to the beat and slight, stabilized, movements.
I remember how I was when I first got a rack for my conga and started playing standing up. I was weak, stiff and uncomfortable.I could not stay standing up through a class without becoming fatigued, had to sit down for much of it. I was afraid of falling over and taking the drum and rack down with me. I realize this is what I’ve worked for even when it seemed impossible. Moving makes me more joyous and loose while I am drumming, gives me energy.
Today I drummed for dancers nearly alone and it turned out Ok because I could actually hear myself. I was joined by the woman who used to be so enthusiastic and ambitious that cut me off socially after I showed her everything and introduced her to our cuban master. When she comes to class, she jumps between bell, clave’ and drum, which is a great way not to progress on the drum. Even with home practice, playing with others is what seasons a player, and since the class is the only opportunity for that, she’s shooting herself in the foot.
I’m glad she is still coming to class, and it’s good to have a halfway decent bell player, but she’s far from being the percussion hotshot she’s aimed to be. What is sad is that she’s lost the big, open hearted shine she had when she first came and was really happy to have found our class and community. I think she’s put up a wall and is distancing herself because she’s not happy at the low level of group comprehension. This puts a pall over things and sucks.
Another woman student showed up later to play for the dancers with very dark sunglasses on. It was good to have her show up, but whatever she was covering up with the sunglasses and the short amount of time she spent drumming is going to keep her at a low level of competence. I observed this all without rancor.