In the Congolese Class where I drum for dancers locally there are now a number of drumming friends who are advancing in skill and strength. This means that when we drum for the dancers I’m not having to expend all my energy playing the foundational base rhythm we use the most, which is N’Kira #1. For that I am most grateful. The interesting thing is, we are close to learning 9 N’kira rhythms which our teacher Sandor has been working us on for 3 years +.
Everyone who comes to drumming class and then stays to drum for dancers is a paragon of courage, perisistence and true grit. It can go well, be fun, but it’s never all that easy. Some people might think that a bunch of 50 something women playing congolese rhythms that are usually played by strong young men or experienced older men is pathetic, even ridiculous, but I think it’s a matter of seeing the lion heartedness it takes to do congolese and persist with it, which is not gender related at all.
At any rate, I used to fume internally when I had to do N’kira #1 and the other few drumming friends playing weren’t very solid with it. Now they are very solid with it, but I’m the N’Kira #2 holder. I have a solid #2 because I’ve had to play it a lot. I used to play it on a djembe with a different hand technique, and then learning it on the congas with congolese was tedious and difficult. But it’s a structure that is #2 for a reason: It creates a specific harmonic with #1. I’m mature enough emotionally now not to mind the time it takes to cultivate basics, because my experience tells me that doing them a lot always pays off in ways unimagined.