African Drumming – An Extended Introduction (full)
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- Basics and further reading for both teachers and non-music specialists
- History and cultural background
- The instruments and playing techniques
- Warm-up exercises
- Call and response
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Some teachers may wish to dig a little deeper in order to feel fully confident or may wish to read around the subject and choose key areas to develop further in their lessons, but not be entirely sure what information should be classed as relevant. This Extended Introduction is for them!
Richard McKerron has written a series of introductory articles (downloads available below) which utilise information from Andy Gleadhill’s books as well as information from further afield. These provide enough information to answer the trickier questions that may be put to you in a lesson and a strong starting point for further reading.
These can be taken in isolation, but are presented here in their collected form as originally intended if you are after a full overview.
- What Is Special About West African Drumming And Why Should You Do It?
- How Could You Introduce West African Drumming To Your School?
- Benefits of African Drumming
- History and Cultural Background
- The Instruments
- How the Instruments are Made
- General Technique
- Master Drummer
- Grid Notation
- Warm-up Exercises
- Call and Response
A series of videos has also been uploaded in support of the article, designed to help you develop the basics with confidence, and these are shown below also embedded in the PDF documents.
You may also be interested in our Downloadable Schemes of Work and one-page lesson plans which benefit from these supporting documents, and are also based upon the information and techniques found within Andy Gleadhill’s Teaching Guides.
The Drums for Schools collaborative learning approach is modelled on traditional approaches to teaching and learning world music styles, adapted to the realities of the western classroom by expert Andy Gleadhill.
In traditional cultures learning is based on following the leader and by repeated “doing”. There is generally no written notation but the music tends to be easy to remember and basic instrumental techniques are simple, and so there are no major barriers to learning. Learning takes place in groups, usually of mixed ability. The playing also has an important social function – for accompanying ceremonies or events – and it’s very much a cooperative effort.
Translated to the classroom this results in a teaching and learning approach which is:
Collaborative – the class or group is engaged in an activity in which everyone – teacher and pupils – work together and help one another to achieve a common goal: the performance of a piece of music.
Inclusive – the musical styles are “foreign” and there’s no notation – so they present a level playing field where less academically able pupils are not disadvantaged. And there are easy and more difficult parts in every piece and so players of every ability can be involved and stay engaged throughout – no-one gets left out.
Accessible – the instruments are all easy to play and most pupils will be able to make a good sound after just one lesson, and the whole class will be making an impressive sound together after just a couple of lessons. It’s possible to include all sorts of “disabilities” and we’re always ready to advise on particular cases – contact us.
And the net result of accessibility, inclusivity and collaboration is something quite spectacular – extraordinarily fast progress. Nothing succeeds like success and after just a few lessons most classes will develop a genuine “esprit de corps” and you really will be seeing and hearing performance-level playing within a terms worth of lessons.
But the benefits are not just musical – the collaborative approach and the intensive listening and cooperation involved also develop pupils (and teachers!) life skills and so you’ll see a wide range of improved social and personal skills and a general improvement in “team spirit” and togetherness.
An extended introduction document that contains background cultural and historical information, as well as a short beginner’s guide to basic techniques involved.
You can download our Extended Introduction using the first link below.
The remaining links contain the same information, divided into chapters.
- PDF: African-Drumming-An-Extended-Introduction (2 MB)
- PDF: African-Drumming-Article-Cover (499 KB)
- PDF: African-Drumming-Article-001-Gen-Intro (621 KB)
- PDF: African-Drumming-Article-002-Hist-Cult (778 KB)
- PDF: African-Drumming-Article-003-Instr (910 KB)
- PDF: African-Drumming-Article-004-Gen-Tech (860 KB)
- PDF: African-Drumming-Article-006-Warm-Up (832 KB)
- PDF: African-Drumming-Article-007-Call-Resp (672 KB)
- PDF: African-Drumming-Article-008-Soloing (425 KB)