Since coming back from Mali this year, I have noticed a vast improvement in my confidence as a drummer. I seem to have passed some sort of benchmark, where now I am no longer gripped with fear when I play in public with my teacher. I am not sure why. I think that this year, in Bamako, I was working with a teacher who required me to step up to the plate and I did. It was exhilarating and challenging and great fun. By the end of the two weeks, he had me playing all the breaks and more or less leading the class for a piece called Jinafoli. I feel very happy that I was able to do what he was asking of me.
From that point on, I have felt a much greater sense of confidence. I am not as afraid to make mistakes and am growing to enjoy playing in public or for dance classes more and more. Over the last five years, I have worked with some amazing teachers and every one of them has given me a great gift.
Sidy Maiga- my master teacher. I have been apprenticing with him for 5 years and have been hugely blessed by his incredible skill, both as a drummer and a teacher. He is also one of my best friends.
Billy Konaté- a great weekend workshop in Boston. He seriously put me through my paces.
Wadaba- Old school village style from Guinea. Loved it.
Mazé Kouyaté- Oh, my sweet friend. In just two weeks you taught me so much about drumming and life. I will never, ever, forget you. And for me, Maraka will always have a special place in my heart. And Mazé, your drum is my most prized possession. Thank you.
Makan Koné- Makan, you are an exuberant and joyful player and a patient and kind teacher. It is a pleasure studying with you!
Alassane Sissoko- Thank you, Alassane, for your excellent style.
Fousseiny Kouyaté- As gentle as your brother.
Madou Djan Diarra- You have a special place in my heart, Madou Djan. You built my beautiful dunduns and taught me Jinafoli. You fixed my sticks and I carry the bag your father made everywhere. Thank you so much. I love playing with you!
And though I didn't take a class with him, I have to mention Yacouba Sissoko, an amazing musician. The morning you played ngoni and we sang together is a great memory for me. What a joyful noise we made! I felt fearless when we sang together... and it stands out as a moment of pure delight.
It is all of these amazing players and friends who have helped me grow as a musician. I am so grateful to all of them.