Sunday, June 17, 2012


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.

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