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What do you think about a djembe grading system?

It's a great thing.
5
33%
It's a terrible thing.
2
13%
I dunno / who cares?
8
53%
User avatar
By James
#22491
Spotted on Facebook:
TTM Grading System in the works:

"Tam Tam Mandingue will be introducing the 1st ever worldwide grading system for djembe and dunun!

This progressive system also serve as a preparation for serious djembe enthusiasts to take the TTM Teaching Certificate test in becoming a TTM Certified Teacher.

Stay tuned for details!"
Yay or Nay?
User avatar
By Rhythm House Drums
#22496
When I first read this I thought "it'll never work" but I was reading it as a grading system for the physical properties of the djembe and dunun, not for the players ability. I was thinking how is TTM going to streamline this?

It's pretty much bragging rights :) and I'd call it more of a business move than a move in the direction of preserving and teaching traditional rhythms. I can only imagine what the cost will be for each grade level test...
*shrug*
If you want to be recognized for your efforts in learning the music/culture, here you go... if you want to just learn the music and have fun, I'm not sure this really helps.

Just my initial thoughts of the idea, but I agree... lets see what the details really are.
User avatar
By Djembe-nerd
#22498
I would like to see the idea of grading instruments.

Maybe this is the way "secrets" from the builders/masters may make it to the table, which players have to learn by going through the experience.

Many things that are discussed but not concluded, skin thickness vs diameter, throat vs head diameter, botoom flare vs head dia etc etc. need to be bought to a chart for everybody's knowledge, even if they are experince based.
By bkidd
#22500
This part of the announcement ---
This progressive system also serve as a preparation for serious djembe enthusiasts to take the TTM Teaching Certificate test in becoming a TTM Certified Teacher.
--- suggests this will be a grading system for djembe and dunun knowledge / ability rather the physical properties of the instruments. TTM has been attempting to standardize their educational system for a while now, and a grading system seems like a logical step on this path. It's a good business move and great for streamlining what people are taught or are expected to know at each level. One aspect of drumming that's important is having a good mentor who can provide a student with a reality check on their playing and their goals for drumming.

I view the possible grading system like any other educational system with a standardized curriculum where students who participate are all exposed to the same information and expected to demonstrate proficiency in specific skills (e.g. sound, feeling, tempo, cultural information, solo phrases, various parts) that are on par with a particular level.

Overall, this system could be very positive and I look forward to hearing more details as they are made available. If nothing else, they ought to provide for interesting discussions, which could also be valuable.

-Brian
User avatar
By Dugafola
#22505
from what i understand, a student studying with a TTM prof will have the option to enter into the 'grading' process/system.

also, not all TTM teachers will be required to do this. I will not be participating.
User avatar
By michi
#22510
Looking at the poll results, isn't it a bit premature to run a poll (let alone vote), seeing that basically nothing is known about this right now?

Michi.
User avatar
By e2c
#22511
Dugafola wrote:from what i understand, a student studying with a TTM prof will have the option to enter into the 'grading' process/system.

also, not all TTM teachers will be required to do this. I will not be participating.
Allowing people to opt out: sounds good to me.
User avatar
By Dugafola
#22514
some thoughts off the top...

i think the system can work and flourish in an area where there hasn't been a lot of djembe/dunun exposure ie Singapore and other parts of Asia. Even bumfock Missouri or the middle of Oklahoma, it can work.

The areas that have had african diasporic drum and dance are the trickier spots. Not to get into too many details, there have been plenty of riffs in communities all over the US: the white black issue, senegalese vs guinea, senegalese vs mali, mali vs guinea, african american vs african, my teacher vs your teacher, drumskull vs wula (hahha jk on that one). In the US, there are already plenty of MK haters and not for anything that Mamady has done directly. He has his mission and vision in TTM and relies on his students to help him. I think that some of the people that hopped on board early with Mamady took his message to heart, but went overboard in some instances. anything not played according to the method of MK is incorrect. this is still happening now. i always tell my students that there's more than one way to play a rhythm. whatever arrangement i teach, i always tell them who/where it's from.

i can see the grading system separating the MK/TTM from the rest of the drum community, when it should be doing the opposite, bringing everyone together. this is worst case scenario, call me a cynic if you want.

students all over already get caught up on who studies with who etc., this is just like adding fuel to a fire.

another reason is that i teach other stuff that i've learned from other djembefola besides Mamady. I'd probably guess it's 50/50...maybe 60/40. some of my students that I teach privately want solely MK material, while others want to learn how to play dununbas etc.
User avatar
By djembefeeling
#22515
All of the comments above seem to be plausible for me. There are many pros and cons for a grading system. Yet overall, I am in favor of the idea.

Of course the move is good for MKs buisiness, and he is an excellent buisinessman. It will further his dominance on the market and endure his influence post mortem. Some people already take Mamadys and Famoudous words for the truth itself. We are fond of "tradition" when it comes to Africa, and they knew how to satisfy this need, even though both of them played half of their lifes in ballets, Mk even in the Ivory Coast. But there is so much knowledge out there about the way to play rhythms in almost every single village of the important djembe countries, we can always check and balance.

As Immanuel Kant said, you can never know about the intention of people. So we can never tell about the reasons for MK to install a grading system. I am willing to take the benefit of a doubt, though. He seems to care about djembe music and its preservation. If I would be in his shoes, I would also like to ensure a standard for quality drumming in such a big, world wide system of teaching in ones name. And if there are more people like dugafola, there is little danger that the system will turn into a McKeita franchise.

My hope is that a grading system like TTM will provoke other systems and thus further the idea of quality in djembe music. In Germany, djembe music reached its climax in the 1980s, mostly caried by the green movement with all its fondness of a back to the roots of africa against civilization. Still, most new students are at least slightly related to this idea. So there are hardly students younger than 40 years. Most take djembe lessons in order to "get in contact with earth", not to think, and because they had a hard time trying to learn an instrument when they were young, but djembe is "easy". Other than this, there is a lot of djembe music in elementary schools, but hardly any kid chooses to play djembe seriously afterwards.

So many amateur groups with pour drumming are out there, loving to play on every stage. This would never happen with, for example, a violin or piano playing. As a result, djembe drumming is not taken seriously by most people outside the community. I would so love to see this change. To have people take serious interest in the richness of african rhythmic patterns, to have them see that our own tradition has developed a high level of melodic and harmonic qualitiy, but is underdeveloped in the rhythmic dimension. So everything that could further the idea of quality in drumming is welcome to me.
User avatar
By James
#22519
Looking at the poll results, isn't it a bit premature to run a poll (let alone vote), seeing that basically nothing is known about this right now?
Maybe it's too early to vote?

Sixdigit didn't and as he said:
I will reserve judgment/comments until those "details" come out.
(There's a I dunno option too)

You can still discuss the concept, without voting...

Some people will decide that they already have enough information to cast their vote.

My 2 cents
User avatar
By e2c
#22526
Dugafola wrote: The areas that have had african diasporic drum and dance are the trickier spots. Not to get into too many details, there have been plenty of riffs in communities all over the US: the white black issue, senegalese vs guinea, senegalese vs mali, mali vs guinea, african american vs african, my teacher vs your teacher, drumskull vs wula (hahha jk on that one). In the US, there are already plenty of MK haters and not for anything that Mamady has done directly. He has his mission and vision in TTM and relies on his students to help him. I think that some of the people that hopped on board early with Mamady took his message to heart, but went overboard in some instances. anything not played according to the method of MK is incorrect. this is still happening now. i always tell my students that there's more than one way to play a rhythm. whatever arrangement i teach, i always tell them who/where it's from.
Absolutely.
i can see the grading system separating the MK/TTM from the rest of the drum community, when it should be doing the opposite, bringing everyone together. this is worst case scenario, call me a cynic if you want.
I think you're a realist, because I can see this happening and I think it has the potential to backfire very badly, for all the reasons you stated above and likely more ...
By bkidd
#22527
Well it's nice that this has sparked some good discussion.

Thanks Duga for the thoughts. It's interesting that I am in an area with a high concentration of drumming and dancing from that comes from diverse backgrounds. While I've heard rumors about riffs, I don't know any of the details. Maybe this is fortunate ignorance? That said, I would be really sad if this move created yet another riff in the community. I'm optimistic that this could work for many people who come to drumming, especially those who are goal-oriented in their drumming and want to have some structure for measuring/evaluating their progression. Whether this will exacerbate any tendencies toward "I'm right, you're wrong" remains to be seen (as mentioned, there's plenty of this already).
Djembefeeling wrote:
So many amateur groups with pour drumming are out there, loving to play on every stage. This would never happen with, for example, a violin or piano playing. As a result, djembe drumming is not taken seriously by most people outside the community. I would so love to see this change. To have people take serious interest in the richness of african rhythmic patterns, to have them see that our own tradition has developed a high level of melodic and harmonic qualitiy, but is underdeveloped in the rhythmic dimension. So everything that could further the idea of quality in drumming is welcome to me.
You raise an Interesting point about the comparison to other instruments. I think this is an issue of how these instruments are taught, as well as the expectations surrounding this music. Instruction for violin, piano, etc. is given through one-on-one interaction with a teacher, whereas, instruction for djembe, dunun, etc. (at least what I know of in the United States) is given predominantly through a group setting (imagine how different the quality of drumming would be if the norm was to do an apprenticeship).