Series: Approach & Perspective Series

  • Playing Just Accompaniment For Years

    Playing Just Accompaniment For Years

    You might have heard stories of djembe players in africa playing accompaniment djembe for years before being allowed by their master to solo. You may have thought to yourself “Man, why are they so mean to their students over there? I’m lucky I live in a democracy!”, or something like that. There’s actually a reason […]

  • Two Extremes To Think About

    Two Extremes To Think About

    Here’s a djembe-related false dichotomy: I make the music happen vs. IT just streams through me. The “I make the music happen” Extreme Now all too common, unfortunately. A modern and juvenile approach to playing djembe music. Many students and even many native djembe musicians are imposing as much of themselves into the music as utterly possible! Leaning this […]

  • Learning Mode vs. Playing Mode

    Learning Mode vs. Playing Mode

    At times, we’re too heady while playing, affecting timing, flow, spontaneity, and the general feeling of the music. What Happens? Deep thought and analysis help us gain a better understanding of djembe music. (When we’re not playing it.) Thinking takes time, so it can become a problem when playing music. Thinking while I play doesn’t help me play any better […]

  • Quickly Improve Your Solo

    Quickly Improve Your Solo

    Broadly speaking, there are two areas of djembe playing that we can always improve on, so that the music just keeps getting better and better all the time: Accompaniment Solo. We discuss accompaniment in another post. Right now, let’s talk about solo. There is a simple mental adjustment you can make to immediately improve your […]

  • How To Play More Fluidly

    How To Play More Fluidly

    Here’s an idea: To play more fluidly, try thinking of your role in the music as that of a conduit – not a container. Then work on yourself to become the most conductive conduit you can be. In other words, instead of spending effort trying to regurgitate all the phrases we’ve learned, we should train ourselves to […]

  • A Theme-Based Approach to Soloing

    A Theme-Based Approach to Soloing

    The difference between a phrase-based and theme-based approach to djembe is profound. It may be one of the biggest reasons why many students will never sound like their African teachers – no matter how long or hard they’ve been studying, or how hard they’ve been practicing. If we want to advance leaps and bounds in our djembe playing, […]

  • Problems With The Phrases-Based Approach to Djembe

    Problems With The Phrases-Based Approach to Djembe

    I recommend you adopt a themes-based approach to djembe rather than a phrases-based approach. If your teacher or someone else seems infinitely better than you at djembe, a theme-based approach may be one of the reasons why. A Modern Analogy. Imagine This: Problems With a Phrases-Based Approach A phrase-based approach is a differences-focused view. It can be […]