Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back with, well, a bang

I was in Nova Scotia for a week with the family. I brought a drum for practicing, but since we were in a tiny cabin, wedged in next to other tiny cabins, I couldn't really practice much. Only once, when the weather was dry, was I able to take the drum to the beach and find a rock to sit on and play for awhile.

It is amazing how much I was jonesing. I don't think I realized how much playing has become part of my life.

When I got back, I jumped back into class with great enthusiasm. I felt like I was playing better than I had for a long time. Maybe the time off was good.

Yesterday I went to see my teacher and his uncle, Issa Coulibaly, play at a park in Providence. They played with a couple of his uncle's students. It was really interesting. I had never actually seen my teacher perform with another Malian player before. They obviously play together pretty frequently because they are very tight together. Issa was on the dun duns and Sidy was playing solo djembe. The two students were playing accompaniment.

Issa soloed quite a bit on the dun duns. Clearly he is an excellent player. It was fun to hear how he worked the rhythm, holding the main rhythm for the rest of the players while simultaneously moving around within it.

I learned something from watching the students, too. One of them seemed to be struggling a little bit. Frankly, I couldn't hear any big errors, but he had a bit of a 'deer in the headlights' look about him that betrayed his nervousness. I realized that I probably look exactly like that when I play with Sidy, LOL. It suddenly became clear what Sidy is talking about when he says he would rather have me make mistakes than be nervous. I need to learn to relax and have a good time, even when I am making mistakes. And for God's sake, I have to remember to smile even if I am bombing!

And of course, watching Sidy play was amazing. I especially liked it when he stood up and played with the dancer. They faced off and had a great time together. He was speeding up and she was matching his pace. They seemed to move back and forth in a beautiful give and take. It was wonderful to watch.

What a treat to come home to!

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