Day 2: Well begun is half done + TTM certification ceremony + Two days of drumming & teaching
We started off our African Drumming Lessons on a very positive note. The venue – Rosa Del Viento already had a wonderful energy thanks to some great connection to the nature around it and the gift of some powerful Mayan
inheritance; to add to it, the participants poured their best and hence it was a workshop well begun.
Mamady was very excited to start the Djembe Lessons in the workshop and teach his new rhythmic creations. Needless to say, we are all waiting with bated breath for his new book with 72 ‘future traditional rhythms’ as he calls it. His explanation for this is, “Many of us don’t know the particular origin of some traditional rhythms such as Kuku, Djansa etc and since knowledge is passed on orally it gets lost easily. Now thanks to the digital age we can record and write down rhythms in a way that it is transmitted properly, authentically. Hence today, I present to you, rhythms to be played for a particular reason, with a particular theme. All of you here will spread these rhythms correctly in your circles and social nuclei and who knows, 500 years hence, these will become traditional rhythms. This is my gift to you. My accomplished TTM staff will teach you the traditional rhythms. Ask them questions and make sure you keep them on their toes,” as he pointed in the direction of all of us.
Top top this, Mamady has created 10 EVEN NEWER rhythms (that are NOT in this highly awaited new book) of which he was to teach us two and so we started off with two very special rhythms. The first one is called ‘Je’ and the second, ‘Yuyi Barika’.
Je is a rhythm dedicated to Mamady’s manager of workshops and maker of djembes extraordinaire Jeremy Tomasck. This is a man who had saved Mamady’s life literally when he suffered from a heart attack. For those of you who have not met Je as he is called by his friends, he is a man of few words but when he speaks he makes his voice heard, be it on the djembe or his voice. This skin-headed, tattooed Belgian comes across as a (and pardon my French) hard-ass but has a heart of gold. Cheers Je, what an honour it is to have a rhythm presented to you by the master, you deserve it.
The second rhythm is dedicated to a very special person, Yuyi Guajardo who is Mamady’s personal manager and is someone who saved Manady’s life emotionally and spiritually. She is an unlimited source of positivity and love. In my experience, she has been prompt, effervescent and genuine and it has been a pleasure to interact and get to know her better. Take a bow, Yuyi.
The Sangban and Kenkeni patterns for both these rhythms are quintessentially Mamady’s signature; interactive, polyrhythmic and groovy.
Mamady’s morning and evening Drum Classes are interspersed with the TTM curriculum class and technique classes taught by the very accomplished and proficient TTM staff (Kelvin from Singapore, Michael ‘the king of Chicago’ Taylor, Bill Scheidt from North-Carolina, James ‘Karinka’ Kwan from Hong Kong, Collen Caffery from Atlanta, and Jeremy Tomasck from Belgium) of course there were two entrants into this list- Lao K from Beijing and yours truly from India but we were support staff who were being tested and pushed by everyone. I call this our initiation as staff.
After the evening session by Mamady, there was a surprise in store for Lao K and myself. Mamady started talking about how he has many students all over the world who have taken but only a workshop or two and then claim apprenticeship of Mamady only for commercial gains. To ensure a certain standard of playing and a certain loyalty he established a structure that has evolved over time to differentiate some djembe players from the rest. These are the people who have committed to the djembe, it’s philosophy, it’s spirit, it’s culture and technique. These are people who have committed to a mission similar to Mamady’s; to represent and transmit the djembe in all it’s authenticity. To go through this process I had to ask Mamady to be my Guru through a symbolic offering and he graciously accepted me when I asked for the second time, in San Diego in 2011. Thereafter I call my relationship with Mamady, a modern day and long-distance guru-shishya (teacher-student) relationship. Even though I’ve been preparing by being 7 seas apart, he has been close, guiding me through my tough and trying times. So, in 2014 this initiation sees fruition in form of me passing the TTM certificate exam. This is the first of many more milestones to be reached. He then handed us the certificate before the eager workshop audience from 19 different countries… A proud and emotional moment for us both…
We continued drumming and teaching with regular breaks of swimming in the sea under both sun- and moonlight and there could be no better way to describe the workshop than, ‘Viva La Vida 2014’
Here’s to living the life!
Varun is the founder and director of Taal Inc.
The visionary behind the motto
Come. Drum. Be One.
To read more about him Click Here