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That was the case this past February, when I got an email from an officer of the Amherst College African & Caribbean Student Union asking me to teach a drumming workshop on the Amherst College campus for members of the group and any other interested students. It took a little while for the students to nail down a date, but they finally organized the workshop for the evening of Thursday April 10.


The workshop was a huge success and a great experience. A total of around 20 students participated in the two hour workshop, with some drifting out part way through, and others wandering in at various points during the night. The group was very diverse, with students from various nations in Africa and The Caribbean, as well as north american students of various stripes.


During the course of the workshop I taught several rhythms, some of which were rooted in West Africa and others of which were products of the West African Diaspora in The Americas. For each rhythm I taught several parts. After playing a rhythm for a while I had the students trade instruments and parts, so they could experience different aspects of each rhythm.


Some of the rhythms I chose to teach were rooted in Yoruba culture. There happened to be a few Yoruba students participating in the workshop, and so naturally, those rhythms really spoke directly to them culturally. But every student, whether from Africa, The Caribbean, Central or North America seemed to experience a strong affinity to all of the material, whether or not it came from their particular culture.