The Bongo Revolution Starts Here!

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Drums/ Percussion By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Drums/ Percussion
Last updated: 27/03/2017
Tags: drumming, percussionists

"Oh cool set of Bongos!"

How many times as percussionists have we been using instruments such as djembes, congas, even the tabla only to have either an audience member or (possibly worse) a fellow musician approach us and ask about the bongos we are playing?.

When faced with this question usually one of three things happens-

1) We explain they are in fact a different instrument.
2) We correct their mistake and then go into a detailed explanation about how they are a completely different instrument, whilst showing off the different playing techniques and possibly whipping out the power point you keep saved on your phone for use at dinner party's.
3) You politely smile and say nothing at all.

But how did we get to this stage?

Should we be ensuring that the Percussion education pupils get during school lessons incorporates different styles of percussion, their playing techniques, their sounds and the theory behind them? Not just picking up some Surdo's for example and playing a bog standard 'We Will Rock You' beat. We should be teaching them the function of the instrument within the ensemble, and traditional rhythms and styles.

The same for the djembe! I have seen countless lessons where a simple rhythm is played with pupils striking any part of the drum they feel like, whilst singing a (for want of a better phrase) generic Western African folk song. Surely we should be showing correct technique (we don't teach pupils how to swim by just letting them thrash about in the water however they want).

As 'Drum Kit' teachers therefore, we should surely be ensuring that pupils are given exposer to percussion instruments from around the world, again their sounds, their techniques, their theory?

If we did this, would we start to increase the numbers of percussion students? would we see more artists turning to the use of Percussion in their songs, and would we finally be able to play a set of tabla without someone calling them "BONGOS".

I am using percussion as an example to vent my frustration. The same could of course be said for every instrument. The earlier we can show pupils correct playing technique and show them the wonderful traditions around instruments, the more of a 'rounded player' the student will become.

Paul Wood Drums/ Percussion Teacher (Gloucester)

About The Author

I am an enthusiastic and committed teacher with many years of experience teaching a range of children and young adults from both primary and secondary schools to pupils studying at Sixth Form College, Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels.

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