Today, Austin, Aidan, Aaron and I took a trip into Kingstown to meet up with Nzimbu, a local indigenous artist and drummer. Skye and I had first met Nzimbu on a trip into Kingstown in August, when we were in St. Vincent to buy our boat. We were attracted to his beautiful artwork in dried banana leaves. When we purchased one of his pieces of art, we chatted with him a bit, and he told us that he teaches drumming to all ages. We instantly imagined having Austin and Aidan attend drumming classes with this gentle artist.
So our vision finally became a reality today, having overcome some timing challenges to arrive half an hour late for the workshop. Nzimbu waved down our taxi while we were looking for the place to meet up with him. Austin and Aidan were the only two students today, so they had a private lesson with the master :)
Nzimbu is very patient and kind. He is not at all critical, rather he encouraged the boys to take it slowly and he pointed out that it's supposed to be confusing at first. He taught them the bass, tone and tip positions. For the bass position, the hand is slightly curved and the base of the palm lands at the rim of the drum. For the tone position, fingers are together and the four fingers land just inside the rim of the drum. For the tip position, only the tips of the fingers land, together, at the rim of the drum.
Throughout the lesson, Nzimbu taught the boys a few combinations and rhythms. Aidan kept wanting to play the bass position with his hand right in the middle of the drum ("because that's what Mr. Drew taught me"). Since he is a bit smaller, it was difficult for Aidan to keep his drum tipped forward to avoid "deadening" the sound. He needed to keep his feet wrapped around the bottom of the drum, but they didn't quite reach.
For the first 20 minutes, Aaron sat quietly and contentedly watching the lesson. He seemed to be actually paying attention. Then, he couldn't help himself. He had to start drumming on Austin's drum. Nzimbu just went with the flow, and even invited Aaron to play on his drum a few times.
Austin paid close attention and was clearly trying hard to follow instructions carefully. He kept a good beat, and was able to shift between hand positions for the different combinations. This seems quite challenging - I don't think I'd get it right on the first try. The only recommendation Nzimbu had, was for Austin to slow it down a bit.
In the final 20 minutes of the hour-long class, the three drums sounded really good together. Aaron and I wanted to dance! Nice work, boys!!