A place for teachers to discuss issues to do with teaching
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By korman
#36686
Hi, all,

In professional education (courses, conferences etc.) it is a standard and sometimes even legal requirement to make syllabus (outline of course contents, material to be covered) available for potential students before they apply.

However, in djembe and west african dance teaching events I rarely see this. Mostly workshops are advertised in style of "intermediate and advanced stages with master djembefola you name it", which makes me wonder - why? Maybe that is not a big deal if you live where the workshop takes place, but since I always have to travel, that is something I would certainly welcome before committing to go.

Have you also wondered about this?
For those of you who teach - do you announce the syllabus for your workshops?
User avatar
By michi
#36694
Quite a few of my teachers, especially for longer camps, spend the first half day teaching a rhythm and a few solo techniques or breaks. While that's going on, they assess the skill level of the group and then adjust what they teach for the remainder of the workshop accordingly.

Quite often, teachers will also ask students "would you prefer rhythm A or rhythm B?" And, sometimes, some question from a student changes the plans and the teacher says, "actually, that's a rhythm I haven't taught in a while, let's do that one tomorrow."

I don't think I've ever been to a workshop where there was course plan available beforehand in any amount of detail. I'm not sure it would be appropriate, either. Part of the fun is being in the moment :)

Michi.
User avatar
By korman
#36697
michi wrote: I don't think I've ever been to a workshop where there was course plan available beforehand in any amount of detail. I'm not sure it would be appropriate, either. Part of the fun is being in the moment :)
I can certainly understand that line of thought! Maybe you are more advanced player, but I only consider myself intermediate. I'm in a process of building my basic repertoire, and my goal for now is to know really well the 20 or so most popular rhythms used in dance classes and some more culturally important rhythms (like dunugbe which is not danced often, at least not around here). So knowing the plan beforehand would help to decide if I want to go to an event.

For example, last year I went to Generations camp in the UK (sadly it was cancelled this year). Otherwise it was a great event, I enjoyed my time there, but looking back I can't say it helped me much towards the said goal. For example, in the intermediate class Babara Bangoura taught Denadon in the first day, which was really great. Then the next time he taught Sabunuma which is an obscure and rather complicated rhythm, the class (including me) barely got the basic part right.
User avatar
By michi
#36698
Part of the journey is to put up with the good and the bad. I've had quite a few workshops over the years where I walked away disappointed because, mostly, I knew everything that was taught already. But there were also workshops, especially when I wasn't all that experienced, where I barely got 20%. Those workshops are not a waste of time. I found that, two or three years after I'd been to a workshop where I didn't get anything, I'd come across the same or a similar rhythm again and, suddenly, it would click, and I got it. I still occasionally stumble across phrases that seem to pop out of nowhere as if by magic, only to realise that I'd learned that phrase years ago at some workshop, but didn't really understand and internalise it.

Nothing is ever lost. There is no such thing as a wasted minute on the drum. I must have played passport for many hundreds of hours during dance classes by now. After all this time, I still sit in dance classes, play passport, and find new opportunities to improve my technique, broaden my awareness, feel the rhythm differently, or just work on my precision timing.

Just keep going to workshops. There is something to learn even at workshops where you have learned most of what is being taught, or where you don't get much of what's being taught.

And, just consider: being at a workshop is a lot more fun than watching TV (or a whole lot of other things). Enjoy the company, enjoy the groove, be in the moment, and have a good time. If that's not what life is about, I don't know what is.

Cheers,

Michi
#36708
korman wrote:For those of you who teach - do you announce the syllabus for your workshops?
I do even more than that. For an advanced level workshop I usually provide plenty of notation ahead so that people can practice for a couple of weeks. That way I can manage to go more into detail with the students and those who know that they do not easily catch phrases on the fly can get used to the content of the workshop weeks ahead. That is rather unusual, I guess, and often people do not find time to prepare the content or do not want to, but in the end it worked mostly well for me...
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By korman
#36719
djembefeeling wrote:For an advanced level workshop I usually provide plenty of notation ahead so that people can practice for a couple of weeks.
Well, that's a sensible and responsible approach!
By Paul
#37060
Hi,

I think it depends on the situation. In those large drum camps the teacher really doesn't know what they will get student wise and may have to adapt. i know there are sometimes problems of people wanting to go levels that are above them and as such holding back the quality.

Personally I rarely go to large workshops and I think its very rare that I have ever played anything i learnt in one of these large open workshops. When I organise a teacher I want a deep rooting in a rhythm with loads of dunun chauffs. If I went to a workshop and there was just a guy playing ballet style and the workshop solely focussed on djembe I would be very unhappy about it.

I'm starting 2 levels of class next week for a 6 week course, so I think I might put out info for level 2 in advance. For complete beginners I think the TTM level 1 rhythms are a great place to start.

I'm thinking lafe and gidamba for level 2, so it would be good for me if some of them (especially the dunun players) had done some homework.

Cheers
User avatar
By boromir76
#37164
djembefeeling wrote: For an advanced level workshop I usually provide plenty of notation ahead so that people can practice for a couple of weeks.
Wow! I haven't been to any west african djembefola workshop with this aproach, but It would be also nice. Considerable portion of workshop time spent for learning and absorbing brand new rhytmicall structures can be therefore much shorter, more time can be spent on details and finesses...
#37166
exactly! that's at least my reason for doing so. In practice it is less ideal. Some students learn a lot beforehand, some much less, and in the end you have to try to make everyone happy, those who know the drill already and those who don't. But since everybody has practiced at least a bit before, I can really focus more on the details. Very intense experience in general...