A place for teachers to discuss issues to do with teaching
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By michi
#11287
I just spent a bit of time looking for videos on djembe technique. Man, what a depressing experience. 99% of what I found is utter junk.

Here is a particularly impressive example that demonstrates an "energy transfer technique". Watch and weep...



Another expert teaching people how to produce the three basic sounds. I wonder how many serious hand injuries he's responsible for...



I'm not sure whether this one or the previous one is more depressing:



Even thinking of myself as a liberal person, I sometimes wish there were a law against that kind of thing. I guess that's the price of free speech...

Fortunately, there are some better examples too, but they are few and far between:



The problem is that people who want to learn technique have no way of telling who's right and who's wrong...

Michi.
User avatar
By Djembe-nerd
#11292
Watch and weep...
I was actually lol...thats the most original (in the wrong way) I have seen till now......its like electricity coming out of his hands :-) :-) :-)
By bubudi
#11298
michi wrote:Here is a particularly impressive example that demonstrates an "energy transfer technique".
if by 'energy transfer' he means draining his viewers' energy, he has succeeded! he sounds like he's been smoking way too much weed.
michi wrote:The problem is that people who want to learn technique have no way of telling who's right and who's wrong...
if you want to learn djembe technique get a good teacher who has spent 5 years plus studying mande rhythms, and has performed and played for lots of dance classes (this is where good technique is essential to last the distance and any injuries force you to perfect your technique).

definitely don't try to learn technique or rhythms off youtube. anyone can record a video and upload it there. if video is all you can resort to due to a total lack of any decent teachers in your area, purchase a dvd by a djembe master or at least a competent teacher who clearly demonstrates technique. we will have some good video material here on this site in due course.
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By e2c
#11299
To be fair, there are a number of people who've posted good instructional material on Youtube, though they tend to specialize in other instruments (congas and bongo mostly; there are a couple of truly gifted darbuka players who've posted a handful of technique vids on uTube, but that's much the same as with djembe "teaching" vids - mostly terrible).

However, some of these people *do* fairly represent the general state of djembe "instruction" prior to the more recent wave of African teachers here in the US - which is to say, very, very bad to nonexistent. :(
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By michi
#11301
bubudi wrote:if by 'energy transfer' he means draining his viewers' energy, he has succeeded!
Yes. After watching this, I had to spend a few minutes lying down to recover from the experience... ;)
e2c wrote:However, some of these people *do* fairly represent the general state of djembe "instruction" prior to the more recent wave of African teachers here in the US - which is to say, very, very bad to nonexistent.
Yeah. Fair enough, in the sense that not everyone can be a good djembe player or a good djembe teacher. (Being able to play well does not imply being able to teach well, and not being a top-notch player does not imply that the player cannot be a very good teacher, although there is a minimum entry-level threshold in terms of playing skill, I believe.)

But I just cannot get over the complete and utter lack of self-insight and lack of humility of these people. Even the tiniest amount of introspection (and 60 seconds of listening to a real djembe player) should tell them that they are nowhere near qualified to teach anything about djembe to anyone...

Cheers,

Michi.
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By e2c
#11307
all I can say is that lots and lots of people have inflated ideas about themselves... and after all, anyone can upload a video to Youtube, on virtually any topic at all. There's a woman who spammed hundreds (probably thousands) of people 2 years ago, trying to get people to give favorable comments on a *very* basic percussion vid that she uploaded, in which she used (among other things) a Remo "djembe." She claimed to have learned to play pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine with inverted jingles) in 10 days, which is just.... well, you can spend an entire lifetime learning to play pandeiro. ;) She made a similar claim for her conga skills.

She had a tendency to delete every comment that was less that 100% favorable.

There are lots of things we can do to promote good music ed. (and not just for djembe), but I don't think there's any way to keep jerks from being jerks. ;)

And i really have to emphasize that the kinds of things you see in some of these videos *are,* sadly, representative of lots of what passed for knowledge here until the late 1990s (the black drum and dance community excepted). It was extremely frustrating for me (in terms of trying to find a competent teacher), and I'm sure I'm not the only person who's had that experience.
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By e2c
#11308
fwiw, the guy in the 1st vid (Paul Cooke) has made a vid on a legal fight with Sade over drum tracks (supposedly his) on an alternate version of her 1st hit, "Smooth Operator." (You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXTxOTz5ihg )

Very sad, really.

as for the 2nd and 3d vids, they both come from the "Expert Village" site... which is really a trip, and not in a good way. An American dancer who's really dedicated to African dance posted about the African "dance teacher" featured on Expert Village some time ago. It was the dance equivalent of the djembe "instruction" videos.

While I appreciate the fact that the internet is a great leveler, it also can be a great swamp of mediocrity at times. I guess that's the nature of the medium, and we all have to be our own "editors" in terms of what content we accept and what we reject. (Not unlike channel-surfing with a TV remote, I'm thinking...)
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By dununbabe
#11309
I feel confident that even though these things exist, that they will be incredibly temporary-- if not in the length of time that they remain on the internet, at least temporary in a different sense-- if someone who is meant to be on the true djembe path follows these faulty instructions, they WILL inevitably find a real teacher, or real information, that will set them in the right direction.

One option is, instead of fueling the fire of non-positive information, we might ignore these self proclaimed teachers and continue to do what we do; to stay true to what we know to be traditional "djembefolism", and try to reach as many people as possible with the correct information.
Another option is, to respond with friendliness to each video, explaining your "credentials"(for example, if you have been to djembe areas of Africa and who you study with, how long etc). and invite them nicely to respect the culture and tradition, even help them search for a traditional teacher in their area. When we respond in a less than positive manner it does NO GOOD.
At the last TTM international conference, the subject of instructors of this kind came up. Mamady suggested that it is not our job to be djembe "police", but to stay true to the path and people will see your truth, and come study with you.
By bubudi
#11311
dununbabe wrote:One option is, instead of fueling the fire of non-positive information, we might ignore these self proclaimed teachers and continue to do what we do
amen! tho it's good for a laugh sometimes...
to stay true to what we know to be traditional "djembefolism", and try to reach as many people as possible with the correct information.
that's what i see this community as striving towards, with some success so far. though non-traditional approaches are cool as well - just remember what's what.
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By michi
#11318
e2c wrote:fwiw, the guy in the 1st vid (Paul Cooke) has made a vid on a legal fight with Sade over drum tracks (supposedly his) on an alternate version of her 1st hit, "Smooth Operator." (You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXTxOTz5ihg )
Wow, how do you manage to find these things? I don't like the guy already...

Michi.
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By michi
#11319
dununbabe wrote:I feel confident that even though these things exist, that they will be incredibly temporary-- if not in the length of time that they remain on the internet, at least temporary in a different sense-- if someone who is meant to be on the true djembe path follows these faulty instructions, they WILL inevitably find a real teacher, or real information, that will set them in the right direction.
I agree--people who hear the call will eventually find the right teacher. But, often, the damage is done and difficult to repair. I occasionally get a student who's been drumming for quite a while, with terrible technique. By the time the student gets to me, the bad habits are deeply ingrained, and it's really hard work to get rid of them again. It is so much easier to learn how to do it right from the beginning. (It took me two years after I started drumming before I realized how lucky I was to have a first teacher who taught proper technique from day one.)
One option is, instead of fueling the fire of non-positive information, we might ignore these self proclaimed teachers and continue to do what we do; to stay true to what we know to be traditional "djembefolism", and try to reach as many people as possible with the correct information.
I'm not sure that staying silent is necessarily the right thing. If someone puts up a video on YouTube, they should be prepared to cop the flak if what they do doesn't hang together. That doesn't mean that they deserve abuse, but I think it is only fair to speak up and point out that they are clueless.
At the last TTM international conference, the subject of instructors of this kind came up. Mamady suggested that it is not our job to be djembe "police", but to stay true to the path and people will see your truth, and come study with you.
I agree about the djembe police. I also agree that, in the long term, leading by example will speak for itself. Yet, I don't feel entirely comfortable with not saying anything when I come across a complete charlatan...

Cheers,

Michi.
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By rachelnguyen
#11320
I think this thread is funny, in the same way the 'professional djembes' is.

We could run a contest of how many white ex-kit playing pseudo teachers playing horrendously out of tune junk drums from Ghana, or eek, Remos, are there on youtube? Winner gets one of the ebay professional djembes as a prize.

And actually, these youtube guys don't really bother me as much as the folks who learned djembe from communing with the spirits, channeling from the gods and looking up the rhythm patterns on the WAP pages. We have folks like that teaching around here.

At the end of the day, it makes me so grateful that I found the real deal right off the bat. That was God smiling on me, I am sure.

R
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By Rhythm House Drums
#11324
My first "learning" experience with the djembe was from the "Have fun playing hand drums" series by Brad Dutz. I thought I was watching the Barney of djembe instruction. If nothing else, it's worth buying just to see it. I started djembe on a remo, at camp fires and with a friend that was an accomplished set drummer and DJ who often incorporated djembe into his mix. He did a lot of raggamuffin and tripped out techno. Lots of fun... he showed me the djembe (10" remo) how to play it.. and so I went and bought me a 16" Remo. Had fun for a year or two until I started listening to African drummers and ensembles and wondering why I couldn't get the sound they got.. Finally got an Iroko wood shell and learned to head it myself (probably 10 times or so) by following examples online and asking questions.... Point is, if you feel the call to the djembe... you'll find your way to proper technique/instruction and culture and vibe. I made an "instruction" video on my remo some years back... I'll have to see if I can find it. :)
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By dununbabe
#11335
michi wrote:
I agree about the djembe police. I also agree that, in the long term, leading by example will speak for itself. Yet, I don't feel entirely comfortable with not saying anything when I come across a complete charlatan...

Cheers,

Michi.
So go for the other option suggested! :)
Befriend them and be gentle. Imagine if those people at that first dance class I showed up to had been rude to me, told me that this class is only for traditional players, or gave me the brush off, as I have seen so many other players do to new people who don't know anything...? Would I have continued?
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By e2c
#11336
dununbabe wrote:
michi wrote:
I agree about the djembe police. I also agree that, in the long term, leading by example will speak for itself. Yet, I don't feel entirely comfortable with not saying anything when I come across a complete charlatan...

Cheers,

Michi.
So go for the other option suggested! :)
Befriend them and be gentle. Imagine if those people at that first dance class I showed up to had been rude to me, told me that this class is only for traditional players, or gave me the brush off, as I have seen so many other players do to new people who don't know anything...? Would I have continued?
Ali - true dat!!! :D I'm very much of the same mind as you are, in both the comment above and in your earlier one. Negativity doesn't work, imo.
michi wrote:
e2c wrote:fwiw, the guy in the 1st vid (Paul Cooke) has made a vid on a legal fight with Sade over drum tracks (supposedly his) on an alternate version of her 1st hit, "Smooth Operator." (You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXTxOTz5ihg )
Wow, how do you manage to find these things? I don't like the guy already...
Easy - I clicked on his username and scrolled through the vids he's uploaded. But I don't want to hate on him. (As I said earlier.) It's unfortunate, but more saddening to me than anything else.
Last edited by e2c on Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.