A belated Happy New Year to Kontaani players, students, friends and family!
The dawning of a New Year has brought with it a massive surge of enthusiasm to make this the biggest and brightest year yet for Kontaani.
I have the bit between my teeth to push the performance troupe to new levels as well as introducing more varied content to the student workshops.
The production of a small CD of our live performance at the African Dance Party has made me want to produce a studio recorded CD of all of our pieces. This will hopefully be recorded through the Summer and be ready for release in the Autumn.
Our band recently trained with David Woolley (my first tutor of West African drumming). David gave us a gift of a unique piece taught to him by an African friend who has since died. I hope Kontaani can do the piece huge justice. Although after the last rehearsal I don't think it will be long before we ask David to come back to tweak it a little ha ha.
Our regular Kontaani tutors Jamie and Beej of Drumroots came over last Thursday to help us to perfect our version of Djole - a favourite of mine.
I have stepped out of my comfort zone and decided that we will sing on this one. Alistair our wonderful dundun player has agreed to sing the call and we practiced it for the first time on Thursday - I was blown away by Al's strong voice and I'm sure I speak for the rest of the band when I say he was fab!
A few more rehearsals and this number will be ready for playing at our March gigs!
It is always a wonderful pleasure to see and drum with Jamie and Beej - we all absolutely love them to pieces and they are a massive part of the Kontaani family. We all hold then very dear.
I have recently organised a couple of Workshops for all Kontaani students, our band and our drumming friends at Kontaani HQ in Langley.
One was a Dun Dun workshop by our lovely friend and husband of ex Kontaani band member Gill. Lamine Cisse is a superb 'dundunfola' from Guinee. He has a wonderful calm manner and outstanding dundun skills. The event was really well supported with many of our students having their first 'go' at playing dunduns. We learnt Sofa with our Gillybean accompanying on a solo djembe. A wonderful evening was had by all. Thank you Lamine and Gill from the bottom of my heart.
The second workshop was with 'djembefola' and superstar Sidiki Dembele yesterday morning, again at Kontaani HQ.
This was very well supported with 30 students in attendance. The djembe workshop was fantastic and the rhythm taught by Sidiki was wonderful!
I don't think one person was not grinning. Sidiki is such a wonderfully charismatic, patient and encouraging tutor, you can't fail to love him.
Supported by Yaz, our Debs and Al on dunduns the whole experience was simply wonderful. Sidiki - you are amazing my friend!
I spend so much of my time teaching beginners and improvers that I have neglected my own personal development.
I was shocked to realise I had not had a private lesson with my own personal tutor Jamie of Drumroots for almost a year!
I have put the cogs in gear and have booked lessons with Jamie every two weeks or so in order to seriously catapult my self forwards.
My own teaching ethos is to take students up to my level and beyond but I'm not quite ready to be overtaken yet! A few of my students are now having lessons with Jamie too and that pleases me no end....they have the bug like me and are striving to be really good players. I must have done something right!
Finding the time to practice daily is sometimes really difficult, especially with a full time job which can be demanding and include weekend and evening work, but in order to go to the next level with my drumming I will have to set aside a little time each evening even if it's only listening to recordings of my lessons. I have asked Jamie to 'test' me on the contents of my previous lesson - that will hopefully make me do my homework!
The Saturday morning sessions at Cloud Nine Holistic centre in Macclesfield are coming along nicely. They are such a lovely group of people and teaching them is pure joy for me. They are picking it up so quickly and have already learned a complete number including a complex beginning, breaks and ending. Three of them are sambarists so keeping time is no problem for them!
The owner of Cloud Nine and my very good friend Lizzie has plans to extend the studio where we drum. This will open up the room which will enable me to take on many more students. At the moment it is a lovely small studio with a great atmosphere - I could still fit in a couple more students so if anyone knows of anyone wishing to join a drumming circle please let me know as soon as possible. Now would be a good time as we are about to learn a new rhythm from scratch.
Oh well - I have put it off for long enough - time to get the hoover out, we have a beautiful black house rabbit who is moulting like mad at the moment - Spring must be around the corner!
Happy Spring Tide everyone! - the Earth and Kontaani are waking up and springing forth with new life!
Lots of Love