Playing Together

Playing a djembe music groove together
Doing it without thirty minutes warm-up or discussion is not as easy as it should be for many djembe students. In most cases they have the necessary instrumental knowledge but no method for group working. The one used by native African players...
‣ Propose leadership or shared leadership.
‣ If this doesn't work, ask who wants to lead.
‣ Say which parts of the rhythm you feel comfortable with.
‣ Say if you just can't play or if you need a little help getting started.
‣ Always bear in mind that it's not a learning situation, it's time to play.
‣ Maintain eye contact with the other players.
‣ Follow instructions.
‣ Pay attention first to your timing, then volume, then tone.
‣ Establish a groove relationship with at least one other player.
‣ Stay aware of the soloist's timing and wishes, so no pushing, no holding back, just support!
‣ Play what is good for the groove before what is good for yourself.
‣ If you can't fix a problem in less than a second, stop playing.
‣ Be ready to change your part, either for yourself or to help somebody else.
‣ If it doesn't work be willing to stop, accept changes asked for by leader(s) and follow and enjoy new instructions.
‣ Don't be shy, don't be arrogant, use your skills within the team perspective!
‣ When it's time to learn, learn.
‣ Train? Train.
‣ Experiment? Experiment.
‣ Teach? Teach.
‣ Discuss? Discuss.
‣ Play? Play.

The barriers between these activities are not that big and sometimes there are no barriers at all, but in many cases when things don't work it's simply because of an inappropriate mix of actions.

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