Updated: March 28th, 2021
As one of the oldest forms of music, drumming allows you to create music by striking any surface of our choice with your hand, a stick, or any object. Drumming is easy to learn even with no musical skill whatsoever. Drumming and percussion are fun activities that involve hitting the surface of the drums to produce rhythmic sounds.
There is always this feeling the drumming sounds give to the body. It is an activity that involves the whole body (head, hand, legs, and mind). It is hard to find a drummer that drums by just moving his/her hands. The world of drums and percussion is vast and such a fascinating ground for exploration.
A drumming workshop is an indoor training designed to introduce drums and rhythmic sounds to a group of persons. It exposes the participants to the challenging task of learning how to drum or improving their drumming skills. The drumming session helps to develop unity and listening skills among the participants. It is a relaxing and creatively stimulating activity that helps build a capable team of musicians naturally.
These workshops are typically led by experienced drummers who can teach and communicate the energizing effect of drumming to participants in an exciting manner. The teacher aims to transform a group of individuals from amateurs to skilled drummers who can play different beats in an engaging form. A drumming class is meant to capture the interest of participants, and perhaps prompt them to venture into some new sounds and instruments.
Objectives of a Drumming Workshop
- Develop character-building skills such as focus, teamwork, respect
- Sharpen musical skills for improved sound combination
- Develop communication skills such as listening
- Build and boost confidence
- Introduce people to musical cultures they may not experience on their own
- Make them feel engaged and included in a group celebration
- Teach improvisation, control, and flexibility
Drumming Workshop for Children
Several organizations use the opportunities presented by school activities such as art weeks, enrichment days, Africa topics, black history month, cultural awareness days to teach African drumming to children in various schools. During such a workshop, the day starts with an assembly. Then, the drummer demonstrates the rhythm and beat to be learned. The children are encouraged and motivated to follow suit, eventually showcasing what they learned at the end of the workshop. In the performance, they showcase the skills they learned throughout the day and also demonstrate how working in a team has helped them to achieve a sense of achievement.
The Different Drum workshops
Drumming workshops are designed to be fun and engaging. Unlike music lessons, they are not formal and feature a variety of other activities. In a typical drumming workshop, the participants start by learning the basics of playing. Each person is given a drum to practice with and play along according to the directives of the facilitator.
The ideal venue for a workshop is a room with ample space where participants can drum conveniently. Most times, they are seated on chairs in a circle so all can see the drummer. The teacher expands their knowledge by incorporating several musical sections that fit smoothly together. The entire workshop can be done in less than an hour if not mixed with other activities. They are interspaced with breaks so that the participants can rest their hands.
In school drumming workshops, the session can be combined with assemblies, art, song, dance, and storytelling. The organizers often feature a particular style of drumming. The drumming can be peculiar to a tribe or a nation.
Some drumming workshops organized are:
The Different Drum workshops
It provides an avenue to expose children or adults from different cultural and musical backgrounds to the excitement of learning African hand drumming. The participants are provided with a drum, so they partake in the drum circle. Both entertaining and educational, this workshop is an excellent way of introducing children to a culture they may not have had much experience with.
In these workshops, participants are taught simple rhythms and are given opportunities to improvise their rhythms. They learn to combine instruments like the dundun, djembe, shaker, and mbira. Dancing goes together with drumming and is incorporated into all African drumming workshops. It is an excellent way of boosting confidence and relegating low self-esteem to the background.
- Other parts of the African Drumming workshop may include learning how to:
- make different sounds on African drums
- feel beats
- listen, express themselves and follow groups
- incorporate songs and rhythm games that provide opportunities to build communication skills and enhance teamwork
Drums Used in African Drumming
Compared to commonly used drums, African drums are of a wide variety. Different ethnic groups have their own pattern of designing their drums. The majority of African drums are played by hand. In most African drumming workshops, there are three main types of drums used.
The three main types of drums are:
- Djembe: The djembe is the most popular African drum worldwide. It is a skin-covered drum that is narrow at the base and gradually widens towards the top like a drinking glass. The djembe is played with the hands. It comes from West Africa and is based on the Bambara language in Mali, where ‘dje’ means gather and ‘be’ means peace. Therefore, the name is loosely translated as ‘gather for peace.’ The djembe is a loud drum that produces up to 20 different sounds depending on the striking technique used. Three main sounds, which are bass, tone, and slap, are often used in teaching during drum workshops. The bass has a low pitch achieved by striking the drum toward the center of the skin with the palm. The tone and slap are produced when the hand contact is towards the edge of the drum skin. The tone is achieved by striking the drum suddenly while a lingering strike produces the slap.
- Konkoni/Dunun: Known as the talking drum for its ability to produce sounds similar to human voices, this drum is played with a stick. It has the shape of an hourglass with a cow skin attached to its two ends. The drum is either placed on the ground or strapped over one shoulder. There are three sizes of the dunun, and these sizes produce a particular pitch. The “kenkeni” is small, with a very high and sharp pitch, while “sangban” is of average size and has a lower tone. “Dundunba” is the largest with a shallow tone. Dununs are played with about two djembes as a drum set in traditional events.
- Kpanlogo: These are Ghanaian drums associated with kpanlogo music and dancing. They originate from the Ga tribe in Ghana and are played with both sticks and hands. Traditionally they are played in groups of six drums of varied sizes. Each drum size has a unique tone and pitch. The kpangolo usually accompanies the djembe, dundun, and cowbell.
Indian Drumming Workshops
This is a means of using traditional Indians drums to teach various engaging beats. It incorporates Indian dances and storytelling. Indian drum workshops can be attended at any time of the year. However, attendance is at its peak during the Diwali and Holi celebrations at October-November and February-March respectively. Drumming organizations also take advantage of Cultural weeks and International Days, among others, to introduce Indian drumming to schools and teach them to the children. The most used Indian drum for drumming workshops is the Dhol.
The dhol can refer to any one of various types of double-sided barrel drum used throughout India. It exists in varying shapes and sizes and consists of a wooden barrel covered with animal hide or synthetic skin. You can play the drum using two wooden sticks. The thicker stick known as the dagga is bent towards the tip and is used to play the bass side of the instrument. The thinner stick is the tihli used with the other, higher pitch end of the drum. A dholi is someone who plays the dhol and wears it over his/her shoulders while playing.
South American Drum Workshops
The Brazilian traditional music incorporates the Samba drum. In Brazilian drum workshops, the students are taught to use samba drums to make music. They also learn about the culture and traditions of the Brazilian people. Samba schools are traditional organizations that hold drum workshops for people interested in Brazilian percussion. Students are taught aurally, and they learn by listening during workshops.
Samba is a collection of percussion instruments that play samba music. A samba band consists typically of instruments like Tamborims, Atabaque, Snare drums (Caixa), Agogo bells, Timbal, Pandeiro, Repinique, and others.
Tamborim: This is the smallest Brazilian drum. The Tamborim has a plastic head and is struck with a plastic stick. When struck, it produces a very distinct high pitch sound.
Pandeiro: Known as the complete percussion instrument for its ability to produce sounds of different timbres, the Pandeiro is a type of tamborim. It is made of wood, and the drummer plays it by striking with the thumb, fingertips, and the whole hand.
Surdo: The Surdo is a bass drum made with stainless steel or wood shell. Because of its deep sound, it provides the main beat of the samba rhythm. There are three different sizes of Surdo, which are small, medium, and large. These create different pitches and beats. The first or biggest is a deeply tuned Surdo, the second (medium) has a higher tune while the smallest has the highest tone.
Repinique: It is a tenor drum often played by the leader. The leader uses it to signal starts and breaks. It is worn around the neck with a strap and tuned such that it produces a high pitch sound.
Caixa: The caixa is a Brazilian snare drum made of two plastic heads. Metal wires called snares are connected on the bottom head. The drum is either strapped over the neck and played using two sticks or kept on a stand and played by a seating drummer. It provides supporting rhythms to the music.
Atabaque: The atabaque is a wooden hand conga drum with a head made of animal skin. It is tall and has a series of ropes tied it as a connection for a metal ring placed from the base of the drum to the head.
Cuban Drum Workshops
A Cuban drumming workshop enables participants to experience the basic concepts of a Cuban percussion instrument and also allows them to enter into the Cuban culture and traditions fully. Cuban percussion instruments include timbales, tumbadoras (congas), maracas, bongos, guiros, batas, and chekerés. These help one achieve the sounds desired from Cuban percussion. Children attend the workshops, as well as teenagers, adults and professional drummers who want to learn about percussion in Cuba. You also get to learn how the music matches with the history of the Cubans. It also allows students to understand Cuban rhythms.
Congas: Also called tumbadora, these are tall, Cuban drums that typically come in groups of two or three. Conga drums come in three different sizes: quinto (small), tres dos (medium), and tumba (large). Congas are hand drums but can sometimes be struck with mallets. The drum is placed on a stand while the drummer plays it while standing. The drum produces five pitches based on the strokes and places struck on the drum head. These strokes are open, mute (which is a muffled open tone), bass, slap, and touch. They are said to be descendants of Yoruba’s bembe drums. Conga drummers are called congueros.
Bongos: Bongo drums are small Afro-Cuban percussion instruments often played in conjunction with the conga and bata drums. If you are bilingual, you have an advantage when it comes to pronouncing their names. The hembra is the giant bongo drum. It is often referred to as the female bongo, while the macho is the male smaller bongo. Bongo drums produce high-pitched sounds and are usually played by hands. They are often held behind the knees when being played but can also be placed on a stand. A bongocero is a skilled bongo drummer.
Modern Drum Workshops
These workshops make use of acoustic or electronic drum sets. Participants are often children and adults that want to learn to drum on a professional level. Some acoustic drums sets are:
Power/Rock: You can find a 22 x 18-inch bass drum, as well as the 12, 13, and 16-inch toms in this set. The snare may vary in size, but it is typically 5 ½ or 6 x 14″. You would enjoy the deeper tone and loudness due to their sizes.
Fusion: You can find a bass of up to 22 inches’ x 18 inches with the 10, 12, and 14″ toms in this set. They are not quite as loud as their rock-sized counterparts, but they allow for quicker playing due to their faster response.
Jazz Drums: The toms in this set have the same diameter as those in Fusion, but are light, with shallower depths. With an 18″ x 14″ bass drum that is markedly smaller, you can produce the desired rhythm with ease. There several brands that offer variations in configuration, including Tama, Pacific, Yamaha, Gretsch, Crush, Ludwig, DW, Sonor, OCDP, Mapex, and Pearl, among others.
Virtual and Electronic Drum Kits: You can easily access a vast library of sonic options using the technologically enhanced electronic drum sets. In a bid to improve the sound from drums over the years, engineers came up with ways to make our lives simpler and samples from top-of-the-heap kits easily accessible. Additionally, you have capabilities of percussion and beyond. These kits are available and range from very basic to professional. They can work with interactive software and apps to provide everything from tutorials to packs of sounds.
Pros of Taking Part in a Drum Workshop
Music education is essential to people of all ages. In the school curriculum, it helps to build confidence, discipline, and the ability for students to work as a team. Drumming also has effects on other subjects such as history, physical education, and lots more. If you are wondering why you or your children should engage yourselves in a drumming workshop, below are a few of such reasons.
Drum workshops teach history: In a drumming workshop, participants learn about the culture and traditions of the people that play the instrument they are using. They may also learn what goes into the construction of the drums and other percussion instruments.
They teach new language: Drum workshops have call-and-response activities where students are asked to memorize and copy the rhythm of the facilitator. The rhythm of the words being chanted can help with learning the basics of a foreign language.
They boost academic performance: Learning to the drum may help your child perform better in school. Musical training is closely linked with Maths, English and the Sciences. Music rhythms help students learn multiplication and math formulas. It helps them to grasp the concept of fractions more easily, understanding musical notes and beats. Students may use the ability for logical thinking that was developed in music class to solve other problems. Understanding that drums create vibrations and sound when beaten makes one curious about the materials used in constructing a drum and other instruments.
They strengthen communication skills: Good listening is crucial. Listening to others play develops communication skills. When learning something new, you always give yourself time to listen before you start playing. It also comes in handy in social situations, such as in conversations. You learn to listen actively before talking, ensuring that you do not make assumptions or act with wrong information.
They guide in building confidence: It helps people work on their self-belief. The act of playing out loud needs courage. It allows people that are shy and socially disengaged to transform themselves and become more social.
Drum workshops emphasize teamwork: A drumming workshop is an excellent way to energize and motivate staff. It helps people align with a specific goal and builds a connection between them. Endorphins are the body’s natural opiates. They increase pain tolerance and also cause people to act more united after drumming as a group. Group drumming can bring together people from diverse professions. Some conference organizers include group drumming at conferences to re-energize the participants and help them to get to know each other on a deep level.
Drums relieve stress: Playing drums can ease frustration, anxiety, and other forms of mental stress. Whether you’re behind a drum set or hitting a djembe in a drum circle, drumming relieves stress. Playing drums can boost your mood, and this is due to the endorphin high that performance generates in the brain.
Drums boost brain power: Playing drums help in brain coordination. You have to coordinate your hands to work together at the same time. Your brain has to work to strengthen your non-dominant hand. Playing drums can boost brain power, most notably your Intelligence Quotient (IQ). As you learn to read non-verbal cues and understand musical notes, you fortify and develop your brain.
You learn new instruments: Learning drums is a foundational class that enables playing a wide range of instruments such as djembe drums, congas, bongos, marching bass drums, etc. Once you learn to play one, you will want to continue to others.
Drumming helps you maintain your health: Drum workshops make you have fun while healthily engaging your body. While drumming, we use our four limbs and other body parts like our wrists, elbows, arms, and shoulders. Playing the drum teaches coordination and concentration. You learn which hand to use and when to use it. You also learn to play with either your fingertips or the hollow of your hand.
Playing the drum also develops physical fitness. Drumming burns lots of calories, increases heart rate, blood flow, and aids stress reduction. The dance incorporated in drumming helps improve the body’s cardiovascular fitness.