A place for teachers to discuss issues to do with teaching
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By michi
We recently taught Soboninkun in our class. As usual, we started out by demonstrating all the parts for djembe and dundun, and also putting them together in various combinations. When we got to the sangban, there was complete bewilderment:
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The off-beat bell and the almost completely off-beat sangban had everyone thoroughly confused. I don't believe that any of our students managed to perceive the beat correctly, especially coming into the rhythm from a binary call. The lesson was a bit of an uphill struggle that day…

The following week, we started out by doing some body percussion. Step the pulse with your feet, and start by clapping the two mutes. Keep that going for a while, then add the first open note on the chest. Keep that going for a while, and then add the final two open notes on the chest.

Within a few minutes, everyone got it, and the lesson went much better.

After this experience, I'm going to try and do this more often. It's a good way to get people to feel the dundun melody. (Most dundun patterns can be turned into body percussion.) It also gets people to move at the start of a lesson, get warm, and loosen up a bit.

Anyone else using body percussion in their teaching?


By bkidd
Body percussion is great. This form of teaching is the basis for the Taketina style of musical education.


In my experience, adding vocalization of the dunun lines while clapping or stepping is also a great exercise for teaching. This really helps in dealing with poly-rhythms as well as keeping track of multiple parts.

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By djembefeeling
Yes, I do use body percussion frequently in my classes. But there are some classes that really like it while others rather dislike it. So more often I sing the dunun lines with my students.
By djembeweaver
Funnily enough I'm doing Soboninkun with my class at the moment.

I always teach my students to sing the dundun melody. That's how I percieve it.

So I got them to sing the sangbang plus kenkeni (forgetting the bells). Because they share no beats you can sing them together using three distinct notes (one for the kenkeni, one for the closed sangbang strokes and a third for the open strokes).

I got them to sing this and clap the 4 pulse and everyone got it in a couple of minutes max.

Then I got people who could play the parts (I've got three who can nail it luckily) to play while everyone else sang and clapped.

Result: No confusion over pulse at all.

Now, getting people to play the djembe parts is another matter (I've only properly nailed them myself in the last year so fair's fair)
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By michi
Brilliant! :-)

It didn't occur to me to have students sing the kenkeni as well. Partly, that's probably due to our own bias: there are two teachers and three drums, so the kenkeni often gets short thrift when there is no student willing (or able) to play it.

I just tried this, and it makes it really easy because the kenkeni provides a strong down-beat anchor on the 2 and 4.

Thanks for that! (We really need to find ourselves a regular kenkeni player for classes…)

By djembeweaver
Glad you found it useful Michi.

I do this with every rhythm actually - create a song that is a combination of the dundun parts then get my students to sing it. I find it really facilitates being able to actually play the parts, and makes people more aware of how their part contributes to the overall melody.

Sometimes (like here with Soboninkun) two of the accompaniments make a strong melody so I teach that melody first. The dun and sangbang make a different (harder) melody.

When creating a song out of all three parts, inevitably some notes are shared across the duns. So I just sing what jumps out at me (other melodies are available...)

So now try singing the sanbang / kenkeni melody as before, but replace the second open kenkeni beat with a lower dundun note. You can kind of sing the whole melody like this (if you can work out where to breath!)