About 4 years ago, MusiCamp’s director and founder, Andrea Kuzmich, started exploring ways to use body percussion in our kid’s summer camps. It not only functioned as a pedagogical tool to help with rhythm and arranging, but also heightened the excitement of any song – and really was inspired by Andrea’s interest to instantaneously make a party-like atmosphere through the body!
This past spring (June 2019) she was honoured to lead workshops on body percussion at the Ontario Womyn’s Drum Camp. In prep to do so, she started hosting informal body percussion sessions with adults at the MusiCamp studio.
With an interest to share and develop these skills more, Andrea will be hosting all-ages open workshops – dates at times still to be determined. If you’re interested, sign up below and we’ll keep you updated. And don’t forget to have a peek at our videos below.
sing songs and learn dances relevant to the rhythms
and tap into the ancient knowledge of the West African Mande musical tradition
This goes way beyond a drum circle!Campers will not only learn patterns on djembe and develop skills to solo but will also learn the interlocking patterns on the dunun – the soul of the West African Mande drumming tradition. These rhythms can be extremely challenging, even to pro drummers!
Learning to play dunun
Masks and dance
Masks and dance
But with the guidance of guest instructor Anna Melnikoff, West African Drumming week at MusiCamp is set up to engage and teach the absolute inexperienced while at the same time provide on-going challenges for advanced drummers. And of course, at the end of the week, campers will perform for friends and family!
End of Week Performance 2013
Below is a slightly edited video is from our 2013 week-end performance of the children-composed rhythm “Timbaraba.”
NOTE: Because the speakers of computers and portable devices aren’t designed to capture the bass, to hear the dunun pattern you need to listen to this video with headphones or good speakers.
Although it is difficult to see, at the back left are 3 double headed drums known as dunun. The dunun play a complex interlocking rhythm upon which the djembes play another rhythm or solo.
Have a song you want to sing? A story you want to tell? Through a series of musical games, exercises, songwriting workshops and the study of different elements of music, aspiring songwriters and singers put their ideas to music.
Stringing up diddley bos
Practicing bucket basses
Set List for end of week performance
Painting bucket basses
In a fun and practical way, campers are introduced to aspects of songwriting, like hooks, riffs, harmony, and rhythmic accompaniment, chorus-verse format, basic chord progressions, intros and outros, rhyming and storytelling – useful skills/review for even the more experienced song-writers.
Besides the tonne of musical games and other fun-in-the-park activities we do every week (including pizza-making in the park), campers will:
learn about composition and form, intros/outros, verses/choruses, hooks, accompaniment, etc.
explore and recognize a variety of chord progressions
write lyrics, compose and arrange their own songs
By the end of the week campers will have written and/or collaborated on the creation of original songs and arrangements. Kids who already have basic instrumental skills are encouraged to bring their instrument. The week ends with a world premiere performances of our songwriter’s compositions!
Don’t miss this very rare & exceptional opportunity to witness a millenia-old singing tradition from one of the world’s smallest & oldest surviving cultures.
People who are in the know are super excited. This sort of visit by 6 Georgians singers from the Didgori Folk Ensemble has never happened before in Canada. According to the long-time World Music Columnist for The Wholenote magazine, Andrew Timar,
It will be a huge moment for Georgian music in Canada, an opportunity that happens perhaps once in a lifetime (Andrew Timar, The Wholenote).
Didgori’s tour starts in Edmonton as part of a classical choral music festival and makes its way eastward. Thanks to co-presenters MusiCamp, Clay & Paper Theatre and Folk Camp Canada, Didgori will have their featured concert in Toronto on June 7 2019, 8 pm at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity St Paul’s Centre (427 Bloor St West). If you’re in Kingston, you also have the opportunity to see them on June 10 12:15 pm, as part of the Choir Festival Series at St George’s Cathedral (270 King St E).
JUST AS IT IS OLD, IT IS HARD TO DEFINE…
No, we are not talking about Georgia in the states. We are talking about the country that is situated in the Caucasian mountains, that borders the Black Sea and shares borders with Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. It is situated on the cusp of Asia and Europe, and it’s likeness to either is often debated.
Interestingly, there are no migratory myths for the Georgians (whose population is approximately 3.7 million). They are indigenous to the Caucasus. They call themselves Kartveli and their land Sakartvelo. Compared to neighbouring countries (and perhaps due to its mountainous terrain) Georgia is known to have 17 distinct sub-ethnic groups, each boasting its own musical dialect. (More academic info on Georgian Polyphony can be found here.)
Perhaps this is why Georgian traditional music is also hard to define. It is certainly vocal heavy but it seems to meld together all sorts of appealing sonic qualities that makes it amenable to fit into festivals featuring a variety of styles – from classical and early music to middle eastern, to folk, world music and even improvised and contemporary new music! Truth is, the best way to understand the various appeal and the uniqueness of the music is to experience it live, so check out their tour info (Didgori in Canada, Didgori in Toronto) and see if they are performing near you! (You can also follow that link for some sound bites and videos of the ensemble.)
A CHANCE TO SING WITH THEM …
To further the exceptional nature of their visit, they are also hosting workshops where you have the chance to join in on the thousands of voices before you that have contributed to this millennia-old folk tradition. In Toronto, they are hosting 2 workshops:
Saturday June 8 5-7 pm at St Vladimir Institute ( 620 Spadina Ave, just S of Harbord)
Sunday June 9 11-4pm at MusiCamp Studio (11 Cobourg Ave, near Dufferin Mall)
But there are also workshops being held in Edmonton, Winnipeg and parts of Quebec. For more info, please visit the Didgori in Canada page. And don’t forget to tell everyone:
West African Drumming Workshop open to kids and their parents!
June 8 2019 1:25 pm to 2:30 pm at the MusiCamp YOUTH STAGE at
the Dundas West Festival, 1496 Dundas St West, just west of Dufferin
This goes way beyond a drum circle! West African Drum instructor Anna Melnikoff will teach workshop participants patterns and licks on djembe and will also demonstrate the interlocking patterns on the dunun – the soul of the West African Mande drumming tradition. These rhythms can be extremely challenging, even for pro drummers! And with Anna’s guidance, this workshop is set up to engage and teach the absolute inexperienced while at the same time provide on-going challenges for advanced drummers.
In this workshop kids (& parents) will:
learn the difference between 3 basic slaps (slap, tone & bass) on the djembe
have a chance to practice these on the drum with a fun etude that develops these rudiments
have a chance to play the dunun
learn a basic accompaniment pattern
have a chance to solo
And we’ll even do some singing! Have listen to us at the 2015 Dundas West Festival.
Mande drumming is based on three stand-up drums called the dunun that play three interlocking rhythms often thought of as the melody. The djembes play accompanying patterns on top of this and are also used for soloing. To learn more about the Mande drumming tradition follow this link or if you are interested in our West African Drumming summer camp click here.
Are you interested in taking your hand-drumming practice to the next level? Ecole de Djembe is now offering a weekly drop-in djembe and dundun class every Monday evening, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. All levels are welcome.
Students will be introduced to beautiful traditional polyrhythms from the Mande culture of West Africa (Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire), played on djembe and dunduns. We will start each class by focusing on basic and foundational techniques, followed by djembe and dundun accompaniments, simple solos and variations, improvisational techniques, cultural context, and occasionally traditional songs. Typically we will work on a single rhythm over several weeks. At the end of each class, students can make a clean recording of whatever we’ve learned.
Cost for a single drop-in class is $20, or you can pre-register for 6 classes for $100. Bring your own djembe if you have one; djembes and dunduns also available for student use if needed.If you’ve never tried hand drumming before, or your only exposure so far has been a drum circle, these classes are an excellent way to deepen your knowledge, skill and comprehension of the complexity of world rhythmaculture. Not only is it fun, it also brings numerous health and spiritual/emotional benefits.
Drumming has been clinically proven to:
– reduce blood pressure, tension, anxiety and stress
– boost immune system response
– assist in controlling chronic pain
– release negativity, emotional blockages and trauma
– improve focus, symptoms of ADD and dyslexia
Additionally, at the community level, hand drumming helps to create a sense of connectedness to Spirit, Self, and to others. In traditional Mande culture, the word ‘djembe’ is said to mean, literally, ‘to come together in joy/celebration’, and drumming is an integral part of all traditional community health.
About the instructor: Shortly after Anna Melnikoff began studying advanced metaphysics, meditation, and vibrational healing in 1996, she stumbled upon her first djembe and was called to study traditional Mande drumming. Her love affair with traditional Mande polyrhythms led her to Guinea, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and all over North America in search of teachers. Her formative training was with the lineage of Malinke master drummer Famoudou Konate and his extended family.
Having experienced the highest potential of transformative mastery in her West African studies, Anna knows that study of the djembe will be a lifelong practice for her. Aside from teaching weekly classes both north of the city and out of her downtown studio, she currently teaches djembe at York University, where she began training the first York Mande Drum Ensemble in 2003. She’s been relentless in her commitment to accurately transmitting traditional djembe and dundun teaching to her diverse students. As a teacher, she’s gifted in her ability to translate traditional Mande musical and cultural concepts for novices; in a sense, preparing her students for a deeper level of traditional study with African teachers. Anna has been instrumental in planting the seeds of traditional djembe music in the GTA and beyond, regularly organizing and sponsoring workshops with visiting master drummers in the GTA.
Anna has shared the stage with a number of master drummers over the years, and she’s a regular performer with the Lua Shayenne Dance Company, and a member of Akwaba Cultural Exchange, with whom she performs traditional Ivoirian drum and dance. She also formed a few groups – Bolokelen, from 1999 to 2006; Moussoufolila, an all-female group formed in 2010; and Saboumando, formed in 2015.
The training in metaphysics, meditation and vibrational healing has continued along with the drumming – Anna has been teaching advanced vibrational systems of Power, Energy and Healing work in the form of practical training in the use of the mind as an instrument of frequency for healing and manifestation.
This year, for the first time, Anna will also be teaching at the Ontario Womyn’s Drum Camp, from June 16-19 in Haliburton ON. She is also a certified meditation, vibrational healing, and elemental shamanism instructor with the Training in Power Academy, and offers introductory 4-week courses on meditation, vibrational healing, and advanced metaphysics at her studio.