alifaa wrote:Hmmm, just had a look at TTM USA site, and there is some quite detailed information up there about what it requires to become a TTM Certified teacher
The grading system discussed here has nothing to do with the certificate. Instead, it is meant to provide structured goals for people who are learning. If someone does all of the grading, they won't have been examined on everything required for the certificate (although they'll be well prepared to add the missing bits and pass the certificate exam).
I think it is a good thing for those who wish to make teaching West African Mandingue djembe rhythms, with cultural context, their livelihood. It would give them some kudos from Mamady that they could say "I am a certified teacher of this material", rather than "I know how to play Soli".
The certificate allows a teacher to teach in Mamady's name. It's an official seal of approval, handed out by Mamady personally. A certificate holder becomes Mamady's representative. The certificate does not guarantee that someone is a good teacher or a good artist. (What is assessed is the ability to play, not the ability to teach or the ability to freely improvise.) However, the certificate does provide a guarantee as to a certain level of competence. If someone has the certificate, you can be damn sure that they know Mendiani; in contrast, I've come across more than one "teacher" who said "I know Mendiani" and didn't have the foggiest...
Purely from a profession point of view, excellent. However, not everyone takes drumming seriously enough to want to be taught by a certified teacher.
Right. And a certified teacher is not necessarily a better teacher (in the sense of what energy they create in their classes, how well they teach didactically, or how committed they are to the growth of their students). But at least, you can be sure that a certified teacher is competent as far as the subject matter is concerned, that is, he or she can play the stuff correctly, with the correct feel/swing, and knows the cultural background of the rhythms.
I have an excellent teacher here in Canberra, and his knowledge, musicianship and love of the djembe is clear for all to see.
I believe I know the teacher you mean, and I agree: he's a good teacher, a good musician, and loves the djembe. In addition, that particular person is also knowledgable and will teach you the rhythms authentically. However, being a good teacher and musician and being in love with the djembe does not in general guarantee that you will learn the right things. I have met teachers who very passionately and with a lot of love taught the wrong
thing (such as having the first open sangban beat on the 1 for Mendiani, instead of the third one).
I would not, however, travel to Sydney or pay more for a lesson from a DRTM teacher, when teachers like the Bangouras and Tuza come to Canberra regularly.
Sure. And the Bangouras and Tuza are excellent teachers. But you might be travelling, or not have access to teachers of this calibre in your area. Whom will you seek out? Someone who teaches with Mamady's blessing, or someone who, for all you know, doesn't know which end of the drum goes up?
When there are quality teachers around already, having this certification in my teacher would not be of any value for me as a student. Most especially, because a lot of the information is out there already - cultural context, history, region, parts, etc, if you know where to look.
I would be cautious here. No amount of reading and research can replace face-to-face time with a good teacher. And, frankly, much of the information you find on the web and the majority of teaching videos on YouTube are junk (and that's being kind).
There is also the argument that this is one way of playing and learning a rhythm, not the only way.
There is always more than one way, and one is not necessarily better than another
While I hugely respect Mamady and his vision, also having studied with him twice, he is setting himself up for his retirement, which any aging, intelligent business man would do.
If you mean this with respect to financial gain, you are off the mark. Mamady doesn't get anything from certified teachers (other than a nominal annual admin fee which, frankly, doesn't even cover overheads). He also doesn't charge for the exam. Instead, he spends half a day of his time testing a candidate, providing feedback and commenting, elaborating on cultural info, and giving tips on technique, all for free.
He does all this not for financial gain or because of his ego, but because he cares about the music and about the music and culture being preserved accurately. The certificate is what he came up with to make that happen. (Whether, long term, that strategy will be successful is something we don't know yet.)
But, as I said above, the grading program is separate from the certificate and intended for people who don't want to work on the certificate (or not yet), but want some structured goals they can use to measure progress. For goal-oriented people, that's a good way to make progress. For people who are less goal-oriented, they can leave it. The whole grading thing is completely optional.
I have to say though that I believe the grading program will encourage people to learn rhythms more completely than they would otherwise. I cannot count the number of students I have seen who have played for years and, when you ask them "Do you know Djansa?", will say "Yes, I do." When I then ask them to play (or sing) each part, they say "Uh, I know the djembe parts, but not the dunduns."
The grading program will encourage people to learn all of a rhythm, not less than half.
Oh, BTW, the fee for the grading will be nominal only so, again, this is not a money-making exercise for Mamady or TTM.