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By Carl
#7702
Ok, wasn't sure where to post this, seeing as this could lead down many roads, but I figured we could start here and move if we need to.

@Michi -

I'll start by advising you to enjoy that fearful excitement of taking this step. I compare it to getting accepted to go to grad school. On the one hand you know that you are going to get access to a lot of challenging and exciting material but on the other hand a lot will be asked of your time energy and spirit. When Mahiri accepted me as a student, it was over a month before we could get together. I found that it was a very stressful time, I really didn't know what I got myself into and I knew it. Once he was here and we started working, things got much easier, just because I began to realize what was going to be asked of me.

One thing I wonder about your particular situation, is, who is your mentor? Do you plan on working directly under Mamady? Is there anyone closer or more accessible to you?

The reason that I ask has to do with a big change that happened for me after I started working with Mahiri. My plan, when I asked to start working towards the test, was to use the material of the test as a baseline for further study. I figured that if I forced myself to have the initial 60 rhythms memorized, with all of the cultural info, then I would have a reasonable depth and breadth to my understanding of Malinke drum culture on which to base my future studies.

What is changing for me is that I am more interested in the mentor/student relationship that I am building with Mahiri. Our conversations are focused on the details of what Mahiri knows about specific rhythms. A recurring line from Mahiri is that "I need to know all of them" when he talks about 2 or 3 versions of a tune, and where he learned them. There are 3 or 4 tunes now that I have gone way beyond what I expected to need to know for the test. (Soko, Kakilambe and Soboninkun particularly come to mind)

At this point, I've had two weekends with Mahiri (May and sept) I have had over 20 hours of one on one and 10 hours or so of Mahiri working with my band. The next time he comes up will be in April, and I'm happy to have the break, I have a LOT of work to do. There was really only 2 new tunes from these sessions, but I got so much detail about feel, solo techniques, variations and regional differences that I feel like I've already doubled the amount of info that I need to memorize! (add to that the fact that between May and September I had a garden to tend to as well as the usual "life" issues that get in the way of study...) So, a long winter, snowed in with my djembe and recordings, is looking pretty good right now.

Enjoy the ride!
Carl
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By michi
#7703
Carl wrote:I'll start by advising you to enjoy that fearful excitement of taking this step.
Thanks Carl! :)
I compare it to getting accepted to go to grad school. On the one hand you know that you are going to get access to a lot of challenging and exciting material but on the other hand a lot will be asked of your time energy and spirit.
Yes, it feels a bit that way. At the moment, I'm a bit daunted by the size of the commitment. But then, it's the logical next step for me to advance with this music. And this will provide wonderful focus. So far, I've been pretty much learning opportunistically, picking up whatever rhythms and phrases I got from various teachers. I've been learning the cultural info for these as I went too, but never made a conscious effort to remember it all, or to systematically follow a family of rhythms.

I guess working on the certificate is going to change that. It will provide focus and incentive for me to learn, and make sure that I don't get stuck in a rut. It will also force me to brush up on my dundun skills, which lag behind my djembe skills. So, all in all, I have no doubt that I'll come out of it as a better and more competent musician.
One thing I wonder about your particular situation, is, who is your mentor? Do you plan on working directly under Mamady? Is there anyone closer or more accessible to you?
That is the biggest problem. There are no certified TTM teachers in Australia, so my mentor will largely be Mamady's CDs and teaching DVDs. I'm planning to catch Mamady as often as I can but, given that I have a full-time job, that will likely end up being twice a year, in Japan and here in San Diego. In the in-between times, I'll work as much as I can on the rhythms using Mamady's teaching material. I'm also planning (on the suggestion from another TTM teacher here) to teach the rhythms to my class once I've learned them. That will help to bed them down and it provides an opportunity to get the feel of all the parts working together.

For the exam, apparently the only accompaniment will be a sangban player so, for my practice, I'll be recording the sangban part with PercussionStudio and playing to that, for the most part.

I'll also get together with the other candidate from Australia as much as possible, so the two of us can cross-check each other on feel and pick up on each other's mistakes.
The reason that I ask has to do with a big change that happened for me after I started working with Mahiri.

[...]

A recurring line from Mahiri is that "I need to know all of them" when he talks about 2 or 3 versions of a tune, and where he learned them. There are 3 or 4 tunes now that I have gone way beyond what I expected to need to know for the test. (Soko, Kakilambe and Soboninkun particularly come to mind)
Well, I guess no surprise there :) Once you start digging into something, inevitably it raises new questions and, before you know it, you are off on one of those side-branches of the tree of knowledge :) That's a really good thing too, I think. Going into this certification thing with a mindset of "I'm going to learn exactly what I need to pass the exam" would be to completely miss the point, IMO.

You do have a great advantage in having a teacher whose brains you can pick. For me, I can do this only when I see Mamady.
So, a long winter, snowed in with my djembe and recordings, is looking pretty good right now.
Yeah, right! :) I'm considering early retirement so I can properly devote myself to this certificate ;) But, really, the certificate isn't a goal or a means to an end for me. Instead, it's simply something I can do to get better with this music and learn more about it. I don't think that, if I get the certificate, I will ever "use" it for anything. For example, I don't think it would help me get more students. (Being able to say "TTM Certified Teacher" on my website isn't going to bring in more students, because the people who find me via the website wouldn't know what that means anyway...) What I will get out of the certificate though (if I make it) is a sense of pride and achievement, and being a better musician. That's good enough for me.
Enjoy the ride!
Enjoying it already :)


Cheers,

Michi.
By Garvin
#7704
Good luck Michi,

One of my first teachers was Bruce Rudolph. Not sure when he was certified, I think he was one of the earlier folks to have done that. He's a kick ass drummer and person. I know he's out in CA now, probably at the camp you're at. I've also met, and taken a couple classes from Taylor as well. My experience with TTM certified teachers is that they are AWESOME TEACHERS... There are alot of amazing drummers who just can't teach, but the TTM certification, and I assume Mamady's acceptance of you as a student, virtually ensures that you will develop into an excellent teacher with a deep well of really valuable knowledge. I really respect the dedication that it takes to do this. Definitely keep an open mind. As Carl said, the relationships that you develop during the process may lead you in directions you may never have expected. And don't be shy about throwing that "TTM" after your name once you've completed it :)

Hope you continue to share your experiences and thoughts here. I wish you the best of luck!
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By Dugafola
#7705
michi@triodia.com wrote:Yeah, right! :) I'm considering early retirement so I can properly devote myself to this certificate ;) But, really, the certificate isn't a goal or a means to an end for me. Instead, it's simply something I can do to get better with this music and learn more about it. I don't think that, if I get the certificate, I will ever "use" it for anything. For example, I don't think it would help me get more students. (Being able to say "TTM Certified Teacher" on my website isn't going to bring in more students, because the people who find me via the website wouldn't know what that means anyway...) What I will get out of the certificate though (if I make it) is a sense of pride and achievement, and being a better musician. That's good enough for me.
that may be good enough for you, but that may not be good enough for Mamady. the certificate isn't about personal achievement...okay well it is a little bit. but that should be very minor compared to what the mission of TTM is about:
1. upholding and transmitting traditional Mandingue music
2. using the music to promote cultural understanding, equality and tolerance
If asked why you are going for a Cerificate, that's what Mamady would expect to hear.

michi, you don't need a TTM Certificate to learn or get better about the music. you can still study all the material and practice the matrl. until you play all the solos perfectly. learning to become a better musician is best practiced by just playing/performing/practicing/listening etc. Famoudou will tell you that.

unfortunately, there are people out there who seek a Certificate just to pad their resume. They think it'll help them be more relevant or more of an authority or make them more money via more students. there are people that have studied with Mamady and been given a certificate both before and after the "test" was mandatory who either stop teaching, stop playing entirely or have zero affiliation with TTM when it comes to the big picture...ie TTM mission statement etc.

for me, i've gone back and forth about testing mainly because what i said earlier...you don't need a certificate or piece of paper to uphold the tradition and transmit music and culture. there are plenty of musician/teachers all over the world in this mold. that's the premise i've been operating under for the past couple of years.

ultimately, i've decided to be part of the club. my main reason being that he's my Master and I believe in his mission. my turning point came after a culmination of experiences dealing with other teachers, students, Masters, workshops, classes, conferences, trips to Africa etc.

i'm testing with him next week.
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By Carl
#7709
Dugafola wrote:i'm testing with him next week.
Awesome! Good luck and let us know how it goes!

I agree with what you said about not going for the certificate just as a point of personal achievement. However, like Michi, I live in an area with few high level classes. It was a tough choice for me, it was either travel to Boston weekly to work with Moussa, or look into the TTM thing. In the end it was the similarity of the structure of TTM to my own musical background which pushed me over. It is early yet, but I am sure that Michi will have "that conversation" with Mamady at some point. It is an ongoing conversation with Mahiri and I.

I am, and have been, 100% committed to developing the drumming community in my area. It has been a long and slow process. This is part of why Mahiri has agreed to work with me, that and having seen me at many east coast classes over the years (Richmond VA is the farthest that I've driven for a class, and I've flown out to Chicago once).

When you are in a relatively isolated area, you do what you can with what you have. If it was only teaching that I was worried about, I have MORE than enough material to teach for years without duplicating material. I am only now getting back into teaching at what I would call an "intermediate" level (the last intermediate class got integrated into my band.... :) ) Mahiri and I are talking about how to "develop" the area so that he and Mamady and Famoudou can have more of a presence here, but that starts to get into the mix of business/tradition which is a little complicated for this post that I am writing while on the clock at work! :mrgreen:

Ok, gotta go, but keep the ball rolling...

C
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By e2c
#7710
All the best on the test, Duga! :)

As for pursuing the certificate, I wish you other fellas the best with it. Am not sure it's something I would want to do unless I decide that want to pursue teaching as a vocation. (Which I've always thought to be one of the key components of the whole thing, as Duga says.)

As for the rest, I agree with Duga about being able to absorb lots without choosing the TTM certification path.
By bubudi
#7713
carl, nice one starting this thread! there are going to be a lot of flies on the wall here!

good stuff duga, it's time for you.

i think that for a lot of people the ttm cert test represents a structured way to work towards a certain level. sure, you could achieve at least as much purely by listening and practicing and learning with whatever teachers come your way, or maybe a trip to west africa. but the majority of people i've come into contact with are not so self-driven and can benefit from both having the material set for them and the pressure and guidance to learn it properly.
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By Dugafola
#7715
bubudi wrote:carl, nice one starting this thread! there are going to be a lot of flies on the wall here!

good stuff duga, it's time for you.

i think that for a lot of people the ttm cert test represents a structured way to work towards a certain level. sure, you could achieve at least as much purely by listening and practicing and learning with whatever teachers come your way, or maybe a trip to west africa. but the majority of people i've come into contact with are not so self-driven and can benefit from both having the material set for them and the pressure and guidance to learn it properly.
good point bubs. but in the same respect, it's by no means an end all. the structure is in place. you don't the certificate to get to that certain level you mention.
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By e2c
#7724
Duga, what you're saying makes a lot of sense to me. i think there has to be a deep dedication to the way Mamady teaches, and to the goals of TTM as a whole - which is one reason why I'm not sure I'd want to pursue a certification with them.

Would I love to have some intensive study time with Mamady? Absolutely! by the same token, though, I think I'd want to spend some serious time working with him and other TTM-certified instructors before making any commitment to studying for the TTM certification. Absent that, I'm not really in a position to say that i would - or wouldn't - choose to go for it.

to my mind, it's kind of like choosing to go to one grad school when there are a number of equally good choices to be made. (Equally good, but all slightly different in emphasis and approach... as Carl said a bit earlier.)

I have to say that I wish I lived a hell of a lot closer to the Republic of Santa Cruz - the opportunities you've had (re. studying with a lot of different teachers) are pretty rare, after all. :)
By bubudi
#7728
yea you wouldn't do it for the piece of paper. although wouldn't being a ttm school mean you'd be listed on the ttm website? that could mean extra students coming your way. other than that it sounds like something you'd do purely for the challenge of doing that much work with mamady's guidance and structure. you'd have to want to have him as your baba enough to travel and take lots of workshops with him (or one of his diploma accredited teachers, as in carl's case). once you achieve the certification, you'd realise what you're capable of learning and try and be more driven to seek learning and practice opportunities to further your level. or there's always the ttm diploma...
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By michi
#7739
Garvin wrote:One of my first teachers was Bruce Rudolph. Not sure when he was certified, I think he was one of the earlier folks to have done that. He's a kick ass drummer and person. I know he's out in CA now, probably at the camp you're at.
I don't believe he is here--I'm sure I would have noticed if he were.
There are alot of amazing drummers who just can't teach, but the TTM certification, and I assume Mamady's acceptance of you as a student, virtually ensures that you will develop into an excellent teacher with a deep well of really valuable knowledge.
I've been watching Mamady closely and been admiring his teaching technique. I'm definitely going to take a few large leaves out of his book! In particular, his confidence in his students and his patience are admirable. When someone in the group struggles and doesn't get it, he stops the lesson for a few minutes and goes over the phrase with that student individually until they get it. I haven't heard a harsh word out of him yet, and he has infinite patience when, on occasion, a student gets their "hands in a knot" and gets stuck, even though the pattern may be quite simple. He truly is an inspiring teacher. He gets everyone to perform at their 120% level. I have never seen any other teacher who does this as well as Mamady.

The way he teaches a new accompaniment is also very systematic and helpful. In particular, after having established the pattern, he doesn't immediately "loop it", but gets people to play it twice in a row a few times, four times in a row a few times, and then starts the groove. I think this is really helpful for people who have difficulty connecting the tail and head of a pattern together--it allows them to feel the transition and get comfortable with the cycle before they have to go and loop the pattern.
I really respect the dedication that it takes to do this. Definitely keep an open mind. As Carl said, the relationships that you develop during the process may lead you in directions you may never have expected. And don't be shy about throwing that "TTM" after your name once you've completed it :)
I have no doubt that, if get the certificate eventually, I will be proud of it and I won't hide the fact that I did it. But I'm also aware of the potential for aloofness here. The certificate doesn't mean that someone knows it all or is better than someone else; all it means is that the certificate holder has taken a few more steps along the infinite path...
Hope you continue to share your experiences and thoughts here. I wish you the best of luck!
Will do, thanks! :)

Cheers,

Michi.


Hope you continue to share your experiences and thoughts here. I wish you the best of luck![/quote]
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By michi
#7740
Dugafola wrote:that may be good enough for you, but that may not be good enough for Mamady. the certificate isn't about personal achievement...okay well it is a little bit. but that should be very minor compared to what the mission of TTM is about:
1. upholding and transmitting traditional Mandingue music
2. using the music to promote cultural understanding, equality and tolerance
If asked why you are going for a Cerificate, that's what Mamady would expect to hear.
Duga, I wasn't trying to imply that this is all about personal achievement. I completely agree with what you say above and, as a matter of fact, I got quite a long and serious speech from Mamady about exactly that. He quizzed me quite closely about why I want to do this. I told him that I'm passionate about this music and that it has very profoundly changed my life. (In a very real sense, I owe my life to the djembe--without it, I might well have been dead by now, but that's a story for another time...) And I'm passionate about teaching and empowering my students with their own voice. I haven't seen a better teacher than Mamady by a wide margin, and learning from him will transfer to my own teaching.
michi, you don't need a TTM Certificate to learn or get better about the music. you can still study all the material and practice the matrl. until you play all the solos perfectly. learning to become a better musician is best practiced by just playing/performing/practicing/listening etc. Famoudou will tell you that.
Yes, I agree completely.
unfortunately, there are people out there who seek a Certificate just to pad their resume. They think it'll help them be more relevant or more of an authority or make them more money via more students. there are people that have studied with Mamady and been given a certificate both before and after the "test" was mandatory who either stop teaching, stop playing entirely or have zero affiliation with TTM when it comes to the big picture...ie TTM mission statement etc.
Mamady spoke about exactly this during the interview. He made it very clear that certificate holders have a lot of responsibility and that a lot of trust is placed into them. In Mamady's words, the certificate isn't just about the music but brings with it the obligation to act as an ambassador for Mandingue culture. I listened very carefully to what he had to say and saw how strongly he felt about this. I since have had quite a few more long conversations with him, talking about all sorts of things--teaching, how to help students, his childhood in Guinea, his family, his children. All that helps me to understand more about the culture and how the djembe teaches lessons that go far beyond just rhythms and music.

One thing I like is that Mamady likes to tell stories. He just can't help himself--his passion about the music and teaching are so strong that all I need to do is asked a question, and Mamady tells all sorts of fascinating stories. It's a privilege to get all this background and information from him directly, with the permission to ask questions at any time. I'm really enjoying just being around Mamady and listening to his stories!

At any rate, I do take the trust and responsibility very seriously. And I cannot see myself stopping to play any time soon!
ultimately, i've decided to be part of the club. my main reason being that he's my Master and I believe in his mission. my turning point came after a culmination of experiences dealing with other teachers, students, Masters, workshops, classes, conferences, trips to Africa etc.
I suspect that we are on the same wave length here. One thing about the certificate that I find attractive is that it gives me a well-defined goal. In turn, that helps to keep me motivated and provides focus--without such a goal, I tend to drift a little and don't apply myself as rigorously. The certificate isn't a means to end for me, and I don't expect that it will raise student numbers or any such thing. (Heck, I barely cover costs with my teaching, and teach because I love it, not because I want to turn it into a business. I have a full-time job already that pays me many times per hour what I could make by teaching...)
i'm testing with him next week.
Ali mentioned that you would. I keep my fingers crossed for you!!! :)

Cheers,

MIchi.
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By Carl
#7741
michi@triodia.com wrote:I suspect that we are on the same wave length here. One thing about the certificate that I find attractive is that it gives me a well-defined goal. In turn, that helps to keep me motivated and provides focus--without such a goal, I tend to drift a little and don't apply myself as rigorously. The certificate isn't a means to end for me, and I don't expect that it will raise student numbers or any such thing. (Heck, I barely cover costs with my teaching, and teach because I love it, not because I want to turn it into a business. I have a full-time job already that pays me many times per hour what I could make by teaching...)
Ok, this is scary. Word for word this could have come from me! (down to the full time job and covering the cost of teaching...)

Earlier this year I asked the question "what do you do with the cultural info?" or something to that affect. Part of what we are talking about here involves that. It is easy to understand "if I perform well during the test, then I get a piece of paper". It is also easy to focus on that when talking about the test, and talking about the "motivation" for taking the test. There is a well defined moment in time where you know exactly what will be asked of you. This makes it a lot easier to focus on what you are working for.

However, and this is a big however, the "test" is really just a door that lets you in on a much larger process. Mamady started TTM for a reason, and he expects people involved with TTM to understand that and to be behind it. Mahiri and I have talked about Mamady's frustrations with TTM certificate holders who are not actively involved with TTM. You have to ask "why did you even take the test?" after that.

On a personal note, I am concerned with how I am going to balance my responsibilities to TTM after the test. I just got married and bought a house in the last 2 years. I can barely afford to keep the studio open as it is (actually things are starting to get better on that front). At the moment, I have no idea how I am going to pay for getting to Guinea! I'm sure something will work out, I just don't know what that will be. Fortunately Mahiri understands this, and we are working on how to make things work for everyone. A big one is time, there is a good chance that I will take the test before going to Guinea, and I will not get the certificate until I do so. But that will not change my relationship with Mahiri or what I am doing for my community through Mahiri (and hopefully Mamady in the not too distant future).

Ok, starting to ramble on here (waiting for a meeting at work). I guess that I'm saying that there is a lot about studying for the test that is hard to put into words. (that's why I need to use so many!)

C