” My introduction to the djembe came later in life. I wasn’t even aware of it’s existence until about six years ago.
I loved rhythm and dance from an early age and remember distinctly highland bands that played at parades, particularly the drums and the way the beat would echo through my whole body in a most delicious way. But that was the limit of my drum experience at that stage and despite having spent three months in Monrovia, Liberia,West Africa, at the age of seven I have no memory of experiencing any drumming whilst over there, not even a parade.
My first real involvement in music was when I began to sing with a church choir at the age of ten and my enthusiasm would get me up early on a Saturday morning to attend practise by 8 am.
Fast forward several decades until about six years ago when I visited my father in the Blue Mountains. It was July and Winter festival time in Katoomba, with a big parade. A group, who I know now as Hands, Heart and Feet, were part of the procession up the main street, with their dancers, costumes and DRUMS!!!!! Oh I loved it.
This prompted more research and after chasing up a few unsatisfying leads over time I came upon the website of African Drumming and finally began djembe lessons. The love affair began. This continued for six months until family commitments required more of my attention and I stopped drumming for a period. In July 2013 I again began classes and to this day I cannot live without the djembe being part of my life.
My first drum camp was an awesome experience. To sit and be part of a large circle of djembe players and play to the accompaniment of two or three sets of duns is just the best thing.The way the rhythms work together to make these amazing sounds to me was, and still is, just so stimulating and I love it. The complexities and challenges of learning new rhythms can be quite difficult but also very satisfying. There is frustration at times but also the reward of it all coming together.
There is so much still to learn, to challenge me, to enjoy. 12/8 time, off beat patterns, clave patterns, bell playing and the magnificent duns. There are new people to meet, friendships to make, new places to visit. Djembe playing has helped build my confidence and I love drumming with every fibre of my being. I thank all of my teachers and the encouragement I have had over time. I’m hooked!”