The Troupe
This drummer's journey with other drummers.

Rehearsal: August 19, 2009

Last night was a very productive rehearsal.

We started with a basic rhythm exercise, as I wrote about last week, where we simply played a 4/4 mix with this progression:

  • Phrase 1:
  1. Beledi (three times)
  2. Nawari (one time)
  • Phrase 2:
  1. Maqsum (three times)
  2. Nawari (one time)
  • Phrase 3:
  1. Saiidi (three times)
  2. Nawari (one time)
  • Phrase 4:
  1. Beledi (one time)
  2. Maqsum (one time)
  3. Saiidi (one time)
  4. Nawari (one time)

Everyone sailed through it with no trouble, and we sounded good from the moment we started.

Then it was time for a bit of confidence testing and boosting.   I had everyone play that exercise solo.   There was quite a difference.  Everyone was a bit more hesitant, and a little off from how small a single doumbek sounds compared to a group of five of us.  And it is surprising when you go from playing with everyone, to solo play.  You sound smaller, and that leads to either hesitant playing, or overly aggressive playing, especially at first.

It is amazing how important confidence is for playing the drum.  Without it you sound lost, hesitant, small, and out of rhythm.   It is really easy to see why new players go for volume and speed.   But the true test of skill for a drummer is to be able to play soft and slow, but still keep that confidence and be relaxed.

We did the solo drills a second round, and everyone sounded much better, and then it was time to break out the duets.    Same exercise, but I had the drummers mixed and matched.  D and N together, then C and K.  C and D, then N and K, and so on.   I found it interesting that some seemed to play easily together, and some seemed to be a bit off groove.

After a few rounds of that, everyone’s confidence began to return, and all the combinations of duets sounded very nice.

The point of all the solos was for me to hear where the drummers need some work on tone.   It is very common for Doums to become “papery” and “thin”, especially when following or leading into Teks.   The tendency is to keep your hand open from the Tek, and that creates a bit of a slap on the Doum, leading to the thin sound.  Everyone does this, to some degree or another, except for the most practiced of pros.  It is simply one of those things that you have to be diligent and mindful of as a drummer.   The good news is it only takes about 20 years of drumming to get past it!

The point for the duets was more about dynamics.  Hearing your drum, and one other drum, at the same time and listening to the interaction of tone and volume.   Everyone adjusted really well as we swapped more and more combos, and I think that it improved everyone’s confidence.   It was useful to not be playing, but just hearing the other guys, and knowing that those drummers are with you when you are on stage.

All in all I am thrilled with the last two rehearsals, and am really looking forward to drumming for the dancers this Wednesday, so we can show off a bit.

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