Review: Level 1 - Percussion foundation course

Dates: Group 1 Module 1, Wed 14th – Sun 18th June 2006
Venue: Whaley Hall, Derbyshire

Course Background:
This is a new course designed for people who have little drumming experience. Some participants had already undertaken some percussion studies; others had recently joined their local Samba Group. This course is an ideal opportunity for people to try out new instruments, which is not always possible in a local Samba Group, and to obtain an insight into how patterns work together.

Tutor Summary (Ravin ‘Raz’ Jayasuriya):
Overall the workshop had a good mix of ability and experience. Many participants were new to hand drumming so we studied many of the basic techniques for Congas. A few simple patterns for Congas were presented and we learnt the accompanying bell patterns and time lines. In addition, people were introduced to a range of Brazilian carnival instruments and Cuban Bata drums.
holding down the clave
This module provides a foundation for the next 2 modules so we concentrated on techniques for different instruments to gain a better understanding of the swing for certain styles of music and to build stamina by playing rhythms for long periods. We also spent some time learning to read rhythmic notation.

People were given approximately an hour a day for private practice and then took turns to perform material covered to other students in small ensembles. As a large group, we worked through a Samba Batucada.

Study Overview:

Rhythms: Introduction to Samba for Congas, small ensemble and Bateria, 6/8 & Congo rhythm for Congas, introduction to Bata drumming (Olokun).
Songs: To accompany Bata drumming.
Instruments: Congas, Bata, Surdo, Repinique, Snare, Tamborim, Shaker.
Technique: A range of exercises for developing hand drumming working on tones (Open, Slap, Palm and Finger strokes), independence & co-ordination. Studies to increase awareness of time and note divisions (crotchets, quavers, semi-quavers). Stick control – letting the stick do the work. Exercises to aid stick control with wrist and fingers, working on accents and ghost notes.

Participant Reviews:
learning to play Martillo on bongo
“Overall the course was GREAT. Raz’s teaching style was friendly and encouraging, and despite an obvious difference in standards I don’t think any one struggled too much and no-one got bored.

“The course content was a good introduction, allowing us to get to grips with basic techniques and actually play.

“The notes that we were given were very useful and I’m diligently practicing (honest!)

“Brill, brill, brill and looking forward to the next one!” Emily Wood

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