Finally! I am doing something I've wanted to do for 3 years- taking a world beat class up at UAF. My friend Valette had the opportunity to take this class several years ago and had suggested that I might like it. Right after she told me about it the professor who taught it left on sabbatical. When he came back he was so busy that he couldn't restart the program.
Finally, they've returned World Beat to the curriculum! One sad thing- it's being taught by a graduate student, and in my opinion he's not the greatest at teaching how to play a riff. I dont' know- it's probably just that he & I learn in very different ways.
However, I'm still having a BLAST.
We're learning different styles of conga music and the basic rhythms that are the basis of those styles. Kind of like a waltz is always in 6 beats, or jazz has open sections where each individual instrument has their own solo...
So far, I've learned the Danzon and the Camparsa style of South American music...
It's hard!! Mostly 'cuz there's 7 or 8 of us in the class, so I'm not getting individual attention. I'm having to reach way back in my concert band memory from high school and college to remember subdivisions of notes and exact rhythm notation.
Yikes! I always did have to hear a rhythm before I could play it... Also, I have to remember different strokes on the drums, and which hand he wants us to play them with, along with the rhythm. I quickly get overwhelmed. I can do one or the other- the right hand or the right stroke- but I'm not so good at doing both at the same time. At least not on the first day of learning the rhythm!
At first I was frustrated, but now I'm just having a grand time. The best part is that there's a really wide array of experience in the class: from an ethnomusicology professor, to a couple percussion majors, to a guy who hasn't played an instrument since 6th grade.
Djembe players of the world, unite!