Review: Roots of Cuba Group 5 Module 3

Dates: Tues 6th June – Sun 11th June 2006
Venue: Whaley Hall, Derbyshire

Course Background:
The fifth Roots of Cuba group had 12 participants attending the third module.

The aim of the course is to provide all participants with a solid grounding in a wide range of percussion instruments and rhythms from Cuba, to enrich knowledge, ability and understanding of musical concepts and to develop existing skills of experienced players.

Participants become a closed group to encourage individual development. The intensity of study and entrance level is similar to the Roots of Brazil course.

Tutor Summary (Ravin ‘Raz’ Jayasuriya):
The focus of this module was Rumba Guaguanco (Matanzas style). We worked on the ‘feel’ for the Conga & Tumba, dialogue between the two drums and on an intro and ending. Participants were also introduced to the basic patterns for Rumba Columbia and Yambu. Study began with Conga Habanera (Carnival music), playing this for long periods at various speeds. Stamina needs to be improved in order to play this style of music as fast as is played in Cuba!

Students developed Tumbao patterns and phrases, and worked on the basics for the rhythms Cha cha lo ke fun and Yesa on the Bata drums.

The group is progressing well and participants are rising to their own individual challenges. Students supported each other well especially when asked to present a certain style in an ensemble.

Study Overview:

Rhythms: Including Bata (Chachalokefun, Iyesa), Conga (Havana style), Rumba Guaguanco (Matanzas style).
Songs: Sequence of songs for many Orishas with the toque Iyesa and a sequence of songs for Chango with the toque Chachalokefun.
Instruments: Bata, Congas, Cajones, Cowbells, Bombos.
Techniques: Continuing with exercises for developing tones, independence and co-ordination.

Participant Reviews:
“Somehow we manage to cram in loads of stuff into the one week – lots of different rhythms to take away to practice, and loads of ‘ear practice’ during the week. The standard of teaching is really high and seems to work for everyone at different levels, and with different ways of learning. I really like the way we don’t see any written notes until we take them away at the end as it makes us learn by ear rather than by sight, which for music like bata is essential. That’s the part I’ve found the hardest – just relying on my ear to guide me, but I feel like I’ve learned loads already by having to do it.

“It’s such a well constructed course that there’s nothing to fault. It was great to have guest teachers/players this time like Chris & Dave. It really makes a difference hearing high standard playing in the classroom and stuff we’ve just studied.

“Although we learn loads each week it never feels overwhelming. Somehow it’s taught in such a way that we just get it. Can’t wait for week 4!” Collette Boardman

“I have completed the first 3 modules and wow, I have learned so much! I can’t believe how much we can learn in a week module. I find that at times I reach overload, but when I get home I’m amazed at how much I have retained. There is easily enough material to keep me going over the 3 or 4 months between modules. I find Raz’s teaching to be very patient and supportive. He starts fairly gently and then builds until there is something to challenge the best players in the group. I think that this course gives a good grounding in Cuban folkloric music and song; we have even covered some contemporary stuff.

“I would recommend this OVM course to anyone; there will be something to suit your playing whatever your level. You will receive quality tuition, learn loads, have a great time and make some new friends! This is the best thing that I could have done with regards to becoming a better drummer!” Adrian Waters

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