Tuesday, October 20, 2009

egyptian drumming workshop

this past weekend i attended an egyptian drumming workshop with famed doumbek [though he called a 'tabla' throughout] player, E. Meniawy. i don't really play the doumbek proper [or even properly], but wanted to gain some insight into different hand-drumming techniques---which i did, i think.

it's interesting to learn just by watching and imitating, with very little linguistic intellectualizing; a result of a language barrier. his masterful gestures urged us to let go, be very relaxed, with rubbery hands and whip the fingers rather than flex and press into the head. though, a passage from the tao te ching passed through my mind: 'when a beginner fools with the tools of a master, he/she gets hurt'...i believe i understood the kernel of truth of this line, especially as it pertains to teaching a musical instrument: a good player makes playing look much easier than it really is; and that the technique s/he arrived at has evolved to finer levels over time...having started from a much coarser place that isn't evident because the master isn't a beginner anymore. i think this is where the concept of beginner's mind enters as it pertains to teaching.

an example witnessed at the workshop, in myself and others: the excited drumming student hears the loud, crisp sounds of the teacher's playing and wants to mimic them. so, lacking technique, the student uses strength to affect the desired sounds...thus performing a very inefficient gesture that will basically injure the player fairly soon. if the teacher isn't attentive, the student has just learned how to hurt his/herself and will probably not continue playing due to injury/frustration.

i'm pretty sensitive to matters pertaining to teaching a physical craft, having taught massage for a number of years. on top of that, i've suffered a self-induced movement disorder for the past 9 years---focal dystonia. all the lessons being presented to me are unanimous: RELAAAAAAAAAAX!!!!!!!! DON'T HURT YOURSEEEEEEELF!!!!!

i was interviewed, at the workshop, by a person from future radio, the local norwich station! i asked her for audio and if i receive it, i'll post it. photos courtesy of azza, the organizer of the event and owner of the sahara house.

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