rachelnguyen wrote:I think this thread is funny, in the same way the 'professional djembes' is.
I considered posting in the Humor forum but, on reflection, felt that it was more appropriate here. While I can see the humorous aspect, I also the see the damaging aspect. It seems that imparting completely incorrect information and technique is more serious than selling a poor-quality djembe.
dununbabe wrote: 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?
Quite possibly not and I agree that such a reaction would have been totally inappropriate. But I'm not sure how well the analogy holds up. After all, you didn't go in there with zero knowledge and then proceed to appoint yourself an expert and teach the people around you...
Just to make this clear, in case I didn't earlier: I have no problem whatsoever with people doing absolutely anything on the djembe. For all I care, they can hit them with mallets (and that's perfectly OK--anything goes when it comes to artistic expression). Similarly, I don't expect people to be competent. They can't possibly be: we all start out incompetent and get better (or not) as we keep playing. People are entitled to be as competent or incompetent as they like.
have a problem though when someone completely incompetent sets himself/herself up as a teacher and proceeds to teach complete bullshit that is positively damaging to people's future development on the djembe and that runs roughshod over the tradition. It's the combination of incompetence and teaching that I object to.
In principle, that's really no different from someone claiming to be able to teach surgery while being incompetent. Of course, because the damaging aspects of poor teaching of surgery are a lot more serious than poor teaching of djembe, we strictly regulate teaching of surgery...
e2c wrote:Some of the guys who post vids like that are having fun doing what they do - and a few of them do it really well. I see no need to trash them. (Or others, for that matter.)
Right. And these are not the people I'm talking about. As I said, anyone can hit a djembe any way they like and make potentially great music, whether they use traditional technique or not. Nothing wrong with that. But there is lot wrong with claiming to be teacher of the djembe without having even the foggiest notion of how to play the instrument and without a clue about the tradition, the rhythms, the culture, etc. And there are many
people out there who claim to be teaching traditional rhythm X, when what they teach bears no more than a passing resemblance (if that) to the real rhythm X.
I also find it offensive when people decorate themselves with Mamady's name and claim to have studied with him when, in all likelihood, their actual contact time with Mamady was a single afternoon workshop. For a student to claim a master as his/her teacher, I think there should be a minimum of true contact, and the master should have acknowledged the person as his student. I don't know where the balance tips; at a guess, people should probably study with a teacher for 50-100 hours before they can legitimately claim to have studied with or under that teacher. An afternoon workshop or a once-off camp once upon a time doesn't cut it, IMO.
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.
We have them too. Usually, they throw in liberal doses of shamanism, claims of awakening the Chi, channeling the spirits, and so on. While I don't like or believe that kind of thing, at least they leave the tradition alone and--at least the ones I've come across--don't make an false claims about the djembe's origin or pretending to teach traditional rhythms. (All the ones I've seen though have hopeless technique, so they still do damage to some extent.)
e2c wrote:I honestly think that threads like this one tend to foster a "private club" atmosphere - not intentionally. But I can see people coming from the kind of background that RhythmHouse describes feeling very turned off when they see posts and thread titles that have a negative slant. I'm not intending this as a criticism of any member here, just as a suggestion. (or perhaps "caution" is a better word?)
Well, seeing that I started this thread, I have to shoulder some of the responsibility. (And that's fine with me--no offence taken, and my ego can handle it
This forum is mostly about traditional music when it comes to the djembe so, to some extent, it is
a private club: one about djembe and West African percussion (among other things). Necessarily, any group of enthusiasts (nerds) will erect some barriers around itself. For example, we don't discuss souped-up cars in this forum--that topic is out of scope here. And we don't discuss jazz drum kit much either. That's closer to the forum theme but still (mostly) out of scope.
So, are bad teachers in scope? I think they are. We have had numerous enquiries from people who basically come and ask "could someone please check out this or that video and tell me whether the rhythm is accurate or the teacher knows what he/she is doing?" How is the beginning djembe player supposed to know the difference between good and bad teaching? Just by being shown what's good, but not by being shown what's bad? I think not. Pointing out bad teachers is valuable to prospective students just as pointing out good teachers is.
E2c, I hear you on the private club thing. Yes, expert forums such as this one are often intimidating. That's not so much because of a desire for arrogant exclusivity on part of the participants, but because forums such as this are a place where people get a chance to discuss the more arcane and in-depth aspects. After all, if all the information could be found in readily-available books and videos, there would be no need for this forum...
At the same time, people who find a forum such as this probably find it because they want to learn more. And I believe that most people are smart enough to form their own judgement. They can ignore the bits that are too arcane for them, and they can use the bits that they find valuable.
And this site offers plenty for just about any level of experience, I think. We have topics and pages about the basics as well as arcane and advanced stuff. It's a smorgasbord--people can pick and choose as they see fit.
As far as bad teachers are concerned, I think I will continue to point at the charlatans. That doesn't mean that I have to trash them. But it does mean that, if someone publicly says: "I know what I'm doing on the djembe and I'm going to teach you Kuku", I'm at liberty to say "Well, actually, that's not the Kuku the masters teach and, by the way, your technique sucks."