Processing A Trauma?


I started an 8-wk. djembe workshop on Tuesday. I LOVE IT! Our first rhythm was Balakulandjan, from the Malinke tribe in Guinea. My instructor is the drum leader for Salt Lake City African Drum & Dance Corp and for my dance class on Saturdays. We’ve been acquaintances since I moved here in the 90s. (He must have been a teenager, come to think of it. Cute.) I always enjoyed Quinn, more and more as I’ve come to know him in dance, but he was unleashed in his own classroom, cracking bad jokes and mocking himself almost as much as he teased us.

Class is like therapy. The students are weird and sardonic. We meshed immediately.

(“What’s this strange sensation?” I marveled at the end of class.

“Nerve damage.”)

I’ve wanted to participate in one of the sessions for years, but could never justify spending $120 that way. I don’t know if I’m feeling a little free since my credit card is nearly maxed from Spain anyway – might as well do ‘er up – but I decided if I don’t prioritize it, I’ll never do it. I’m so happy I did this for myself!

Here’s a surprise: My cats LOVE it! Back in the day when I imagined I might play the didgeridoo, they ran for the hills whenever that low drone vibrated the air. I thought this loud, new instrument would be far more jarring, especially considering that I’m still, shall we say, rather in the rough. They both coiled up right at my feet while I figured out… just how do I stop smacking my thumbs on the rim of this thing? And keep my fingers relaxed, my wrists straight, my elbows in and…

Wait, how does this go?


Balakulandian is played at children’s festivals.

Location: Guinea
Ethnic Group: Malinke


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