Hello My Friends,
Ens • Zwi • Alla Spellen Veder Mit
One Two All Play Once Again
Berlin is BIG on drumming. You will find many Samba bands, Culturally-specific, and Taiko Drumming groups playing publicly throughout the city. There are also many drumming schools here as well.
One such school is called DrumTrainerBerlin. Focused on trap drumming and rock bands, it sits in a big thick walled basement under an old brewery. DrumTrainerBerlin shares the basement with another drumming school called PAC Percussionist Arts Center. PAC is focused on the many variations of culturally-specific drumming.
The cavernous halls of the school are stacked to the ceiling with Congas, Surds, Taiko Drums, etc. As you walk by the rooms you can hear the rhythms of the world leak out through the thick “almost” sound-proof doors. And just across from the brewery is another drumming school called GROOVE, offering Brasil, Afro and Latin drumming classes.
Dirk Erchinger is a well-known trap drummer around Germany, and is the founder of DrumTrainerBerlin. Dirk wanted to come to last years Germany 6-day Playshop, but he couldn’t schedule it. So instead, he sent one of his trap drummer/hand drummer teachers, Lars, to the 6-day instead. Lars graduated from the training and brought back the concept and technology of facilitated rhythm-based events and will start doing regular drum circles at the school. Now Lars and Dirk are also doing DCs in corporate settings, and with kids as well. Lars works with a well elderly group on his own.
Dirk had scheduled a family drum circle for young kids and their parents. The parents were not allowed to drop their kids off to be “Rhythmically Babysat.” They had to sit and play with their kids, and they did. AND they had as much fun as the kids!
The population that showed up to the event totaled 57, with about 2/3s being kids from 4-8 years old.
There was a 2-foot square pillar in the exact middle of the double row drum circle. At first I thought it would be a big problem. But once I got over the surprise and “Worked With What They Gave Me,” I managed to turn it into a theater/facilitation prop as I peeked around it, hung onto it and off of it, as I facilitated the kids on the other side of it. I basically used the pillar as a PG-rated dance pole.
The program was just a simplified Drum Call with a few games geared to their level such as: Layering in a Rhythm Groove, a Call and Response game, and By The Numbers. Wham... Done with loads of Fun!!
Then at the same venue, I did a 2-hour "Rhythmical Alchemy Playshop.” It was mostly attended by the teachers from both schools and some of their top players. There was a high level of musicality already in place before we started.
The '3 & 1' game turned into a hilarious advanced ‘Challenge' game, and the grooves we initiated through the games got deeper and deeper into late night like grooves. Here is what we did….
- All the different permutations of Groove to Solo, including 3 measures groove & 1 measure solo, 3 & 2, 3 & 2 with free form jump, and variations of partner and section soloing.
- Nearly all the variations of "By The Numbers” including the advance, “Pick 2 different numbers for 2 separate cycles.”
- A number of the different variations on the “Quantifying by Pitch” games.
- All the “Layering in a Groove “ games, and finishing off the event with my favorite, “Layering in an Ensemble” game.
The Villa Albrecht is a well elderly rest home and a day center for elderly people that also accommodated the elderly with dementia. This is a special place sponsored by the German Red Cross and the government. This is a very modern, clean, well sunlit and open space.
The elderly participants are regular drum circle participants, as they hold their drum circle sessions twice a week. They own and maintain all of their own equipment.
To finish off my Berlin part of this DrumAbout tour, we met Ricarda Rabe at the Villa Albrecht. She was also at the 3-day Barcelona Playshop on this VMC Euro Tour.
Ricarda instigated this amazing ongoing self-facilitated elderly drum circle, and she still visits and facilitates the circles twice a month. This drum circle I participated in was her 51st one that she has facilitated at this venue.
Richard started off the circle with a vocal “Gotten Morgen” call and response with the group that started a great Drum Call.
Basically this was a regular drum circle but populated by elderly people who were veteran drum circle participants. When Ricarda handed the group over to me, “On The Run”, they were very well warmed up, and there were some very good gray-haired players in the group.
I did a little “Accent Note Facilitation" and some “Volume Showcasing” before bringing the group to a close and introducing myself.
Then I told them a little story about when I was a small boy visiting in southern Germany, I was taught a local drinking song by Maria Mittamyer. I told the German players that I only knew the first verse and if they would sing along with me, could they teach me the second and third verses. Then we all sang the whole song of “In Munchen stat en Hoffbroy Haus, Ins Zwi Suffa” together... all the way to it’s 'Ompa-Ompa' ending. As the group sang, they played their drums all the way to the end.
After our drinking song ended, I asked if anyone else has a song that they wanted to share and lead. Of course, there were plenty of volunteers. We sang five other songs together as we played our drums. Three of those songs were lullabies that their parents had sang to them when they were small children.
After the song session, I brought out the large REMO, (Not So Loud), standup Table Drum that Ben and I had been carrying around in our GEWa drum van. I put it into the center of the circle and produced 4 extra mallets. Then I enticed participants into the center of the circle to play it together. Everyone took turns, while the rest of the circle played with them. Some danced when they were standing and playing the large headed drum. Some sang their own song to themselves as they played. The drum enlivened the whole room in a totally different way that the regular drum circle did. Ben had also brought in the smaller stand up REMO Table Drum and had two other people play it in the back of the circle.
At the end of the drumming session Benjamin Flohr, as the official representation of GEWA, announced that we were going to give Ricarda the smaller Table Drum to use in her programs as a “Permanent - Temporary - Loan.” Ricarda jumped for joy. A great end to a great drum circle, and a great end to the Berlin part of our Germany DrumAbout.
Here are some Facebook pics…
Does that work? Now its time to travel south to Cologne.
Life is a dance….. When your Sharing your Spirit... Arthur