Rhythm Wisdoms {drum lessons}

I spent the weekend attending a West African drum workshop.  I have walked away with so much inspiration that I feel like I could explode.

 Wassa Kunba! -Malinké for Great Joy!

The workshop was taught by Helen Bond of Chicago, Illinois and Fodé Camara of Guinea, West Africa. They shared their drums, their stories, and their gracious spirits.

She Who Drums {Helen}

Helen fell in love with drumming as a young girl. Her passion brought her to explore drums from various cultures but ultimately, she chose to focus on the polyrhythms of West Africa.  She began studying with Drum Master Fomoudou Kona and eventually joined him for a trip to Sangbarella, West Africa, his home village. She has now been a total of twelve times and has founded, along with Amy Lusk, The Benkadi Project in an effort to provide humanitarian aid to the village.

One of the Sangbarella students shows Helen how he is able to read.

image by Helen Bond

Helen’s stories made it clear that she has not just gone into the village and propelled her own brand of change, she has worked with the elders of the village to determine what their specific needs are. I really respect that. She has been taken into the community and become one of its own beloveds. Experiencing the drum with Helen is also a way of experiencing West Africa and Her people.

image by Debbie Cannatella

He Who Drums {Fodé}

Fodé lives in Conakry, Guinea and travels to the United States for several months out of the year. He travels along with Helen and other West African drummers teaching workshops and taking on the role of artist in residence.  When Fodé is at home, he is a drum maker. He has an amazing presence about him. It seems to come from his heart and shine out in his smile. Fodé not only educates about the how of drumming, but shares the drum’s role in his culture. Drumming seems so important that it literally serves as the heart beat of his people, adding to their vitality, wellness, and heritage.

School house in Shangbarella

image by Helen Bond

While Helen and Fodé visited our community, they took time to talk about life in Guinea in terms of the humanitarian efforts of The Benkadi Project and the role of the drum in African life. You can listen to a podcast of their talk, Creating Community and Connecting Cultures: An Experience in Guinea, West Africa. It is about 13 minutes long and packed full of rich stories and inspiration (worth listening to if only just to hear Fodé speaking in his native language….lovely).

To get a visual sense of what rhythm means to West Africa, you can watch There is No Movement without Rhythm, a video that features many of Helen and Fodé’s friends. This is a village close to his home village. (Truly one of my favorite videos currently on the net!)

I want to close with a quote from Babatunde Olatunji, a Master Drummer and luminary  who I had the very exquisite honor of being in circle with at the Peace Vigil for the Earth in Washington, D.C.  The circle changed my life.  I know dancing to his drum was a big part of that.

About Rachél

Hi, I am Rachél.... the quirky, big-hearted soul behind Creativity Tribe, a sanctuary for your creative spirit. As a life coach and artist, I know the importance of community, celebration, and transformation. Creativity Tribe is abuzz with connections to other creative bloggers and offers tips and stories to inspire your creative lifestyle! http://www.creativitytribe.com/
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9 Responses to Rhythm Wisdoms {drum lessons}

  1. Thanks for this post. I’ve never been to an African drum workshop, but I couldn’t live without my djembe. I have done two Latin percussion workshops, and they were life-changing. Everyone should be issued a drum at birth. Everyone should be rapping and tapping rhythms all the time. Rhythm is our Ur-native language and has been since we first felt our mother’s heartbeat. Dancing is rhythm talking. You don’t need sheet music. You don’t need to be in a band. People are so cranky because they are quarts low in boogie. Rhythm. We all need to be making rhythms, all the time. Life and everything in it is a dance, or should be.

    • Rachél says:

      Well said! And I totally agree. The best times of my life have been lived with a beat. Maybe if with lived with more drumming we would beat each other up so much or beat ourselves down!

  2. rosemary says:

    sounds like a wonderful experiance… thank u for sharing such a neat experiance.

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  4. Sofia says:

    take me with you to the next one! i would love to experience this!

  5. Great post, this is something I have always wanted to do.

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