I’m a 31 year old man from the midlands, By trade I’m a youth worker. I’ve been drumming for a few years with a community drum group, looking mostly at West African rhythms. I started getting more serious about percussion 3 years ago and purchased some congas I thought it would be good to have some proper tuition, a friend recommended OVM so I decided to jump into the deep end.

I commenced the Roots of Cuba course in Oct 2005 and became a member of the ROC group 5, or Puno De Dios as we have come to be known. I completed the course in Sept 07 and the 2 years of study, learning, practicing and developing as a musician have been all I hoped they would be.
I have enjoyed everything relating to the course, the tuition has been fantastic. The way the course is structured allows for a close group to develop, I’ve not only become a better musician, but I’ve made friends and have gained experiences, which have enriched my life.

Before doing this course my theoretical knowledge of music was very basic, but I have definitely come on leaps and bounds in terms of my understanding of how music works and the conceptualization of rhythms. I have a good understanding of clave and bell patterns and how they relate to drumming and song. I have really benefited in that I can play and participate with feeling and I have gained a wealth of knowledge to inform my playing. My technique is better and I’ve got skills I didn’t even know existed this time 3 years ago.

I really didn’t think that I would enjoy singing; initially I was all about drumming and didn’t care so much for the songs. On the first module though I realized how important the songs are and that they are inextricably linked to the rhythms and give each other context. I found that I was really enjoying learning songs and even more strange for me really enjoying singing them in front of other people.

My all time favorite times on this course have been after the lessons have finished and the whole group gets together, has a laugh, drinks, socializes and plays. Its an amazing experience and wonderful to have been part of a closed study group that can move forward and develop together like that, pure magic.

Raz is a fantastic teacher, he has helped me and the rest of the group really become better percussionists. Raz is a very patient and generous in the way he imparts his knowledge and draws the best out of his students, he has developed a course and a style of teaching that pushes his students but allows through his guidance and the culture of group support that is developed, feel safe and comfortable, when trying new things, even when making mistakes in front of others.

I have really come a long way in terms of my musical development, before I did the course, I enjoyed playing, but learned as wrote, and really I was just copying what someone else had played. The teaching and study in this course has really instilled in me a deep understanding of how the rhythms we studied work. I’ve been working on the foundations to move forward and understand new rhythms and expand on what I already know at a deep level. The concepts and principals covered by this course have given me access to a whole new dimension of playing, understanding, appreciation and respect for Afro-Cuban and African based drumming which is now part of me.

During the course and now post ROC I have the confidence to play with other musicians, and feel that I know what I’m doing. During summer 2007 at a major UK drumming festival a performer, who had seen me drumming in a workshop earlier that day invited me to play on the stage with an Afro Cuban drumming ensemble. This was in front of a few hundred people. I could do this with confidence.

I’m also engaging young people and community groups in drum workshops therefore this course has enhanced my professional delivery as a youth and community worker. This outlet is leading me towards the outlet as a community artist and I’ve become involved with a local music project. I hope to develop a community level Afro-Cuban group and community workshops via this outlet

I also am playing and practicing regularly with a band and have performed in front of 1800 people at the Victoria Hall in Stoke on Trent.

The above examples clearly show how I have developed from someone who has a hobbyist interest into someone who is proactive musically with a thirst to develop my skills and a desire to share what I’ve learned with others.

Another advantage of doing this course is that you get to meet some very talented individuals from across the country, this is a fantastic network from which to draw experience and develop a peer group with whom to perform with, invite to and be invited to drumming events and opportunities throughout the UK.

The last couple of years have been challenging at times. The course has demanded time, attention dedication and commitment, but its all been worth it. If I could go back in time, I would definitely do it again
Adrian Waters, Stoke on Trent

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