The Same Old Drumming Quandry

Tonight I went to my bata lesson and noticed that the teacher didn’t look so good. He fell on his shoulder and separated it, had been in pain until he saw the other bata student, who is a physical therapist. He was on both our cases, not the worst, but when he uses an angry and bitter kind of scorn, it can be hard to take when you trying your best. I found out later he’d had an absessed tooth which had to be pulled.

I gave him some guff, because he sometimes he expects me to pick up multiple things perfectly in seconds, and while I do pick up some things quickly and have a fair amount of aptitude, I can’t begin to even understand a rhythm until I’ve heard it for awhile. This doesn’t mean I don’t respect my teacher, but in Cuba if anyone is dancing or drumming they practice all the time. He tolerates some imperfection but demands a high level of competence right out of the gate.

I don’t practice bata outside of class because I don’t have a place or people to practice with. The other student is very busy with her work and tends to think she knows a rhythm when in fact she doesn’t, and will argue with me if I don’t agree with her. I’m no perfect authority on how things go either.

I have tiny, short fingered hands, and when I get a hand position wrong and he corrects me like I should know with his long palms and long, leathery fingers, it’s not helpful. I only play batas once a week so there is a lot I don’t retain.

I was reading Layne Redmond’s webpage with tips on being a frame drummer. She is a famous one who has traveled all over the world and written a book about how it was women in the ancient world who used frame drums to connect people with the divine through rhythm. The first thing she says is “practice every day”. I’m tired of studying percussion where it’s this damned crapshoot and progress is very slow and affected  by us all  not doing it enough.

Robert Wallace, a drum teacher in Alameda I’ve gone to says: Commitment Creates Success. Thus he offers series and does not do casual classes where people can drop in( and out).

Hmmm. I’m starting to see I’m blaming outside circumstances rather than being open to either creating something else that gives me what I want or going elsewhere. I dunno what this means and what I should do about it yet, but maybe it is an opportunity waiting to be born.

About Shirley

I started this blog to expand and explore my rhythm horizons as a hand drummer. That exploration includes touching on the rest of my life and inner world as authentically and truthfully as possible.
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