Its our African Drumming Class 25 year anniversary!

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Its our African Drumming Class 25 year anniversary!

This month marks our 25 year anniversary of running African Drumming Classes in Sheffield. It’s been an amazing journey so far!

A glimpse of the past!

A glimpse of the past!

On the 6th October 1994 I ran the first class using 1 djembe hand drum, 4 conga hand drums, an assortment of plastic tubs, sawn off broom sticks and a variety of pots and pans!

25 years later with more drums and percussion (and a far better understanding of the music of how to teach), I am still running the class and loving every bit of it! Hundreds of people have joined us for unbeatable beats over the years. To date I know of at least four couples who met as result of the class and are now married with children - including myself and Nicky!

So to celebrate this milestone, we have created this video with a few of the many highlights from the last two and a half decades:

Some of the students started attending the classes when they were aged only 9 or 10. It has been so special to see them grow and develop into such talented musicians over the years. Now grown up, they but still continue to drum with us - when they are back from University that is!

I would like to thank everyone who has been part of this beautiful weekly event over the years. The class continues to be a total pleasure for me to teach and has become one of my social occasions of the week. You have all been amazing and I look forward to many happy years of rhythm bliss to come!

Why not take the celebration a little further by joining us this season! The group is big, welcoming and the energy is amazing! Find out more about the class here!

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Why should an African Drumming class perform?

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Why should an African Drumming class perform?

I have been running regular African Drumming evening classes in Sheffield now for 25 years! The weekly classes remain an enjoyable mid-week activity, however working towards polished pieces and a performance heightens the sense of personal fulfilment, achievement and appreciation. For both myself and the students the performance becomes a crucial motivator on the wonderful journey of music making.

Last month the students from our class performed their very first 30-minute performance set comprised of multiple rhythm and break patterns which have been orchestrated into three musical pieces. 

You can see the result here:

Video guide:

1st Piece "Degu Degu Racca Racca" 00:09

2nd Piece "Soko Moolan Chegin Jarafoli" 11:22;

3rd Piece "Kassa Musolu Jarafoli" 22:30.

Musical sources and inspiration: Songalo Coulibaly, Iya Sako; Hans Sutton; Sidiki Dembele; Babara Bangoura; Moudou Diouf.

The Diversity Festival runs every year in Sheffield and is a free celebration of unity and mutual respect between Sheffield's many communities, for people of every gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age and ability. Find out more here

So how does performing to the public enhance the experience for students? Here is what some of our students have said:

Amy:

“Performing at gigs makes me feel alive! Creating an electric, energetic atmosphere for people of all ages to enjoy makes me feel like all the practice is worth it. It puts all the learning to the test and gives me a great sense of achievement. 

It's so good to know that we do gives others immense enjoyment :) whether that's dancing to us, drumming on the tables with us or tapping their feet to the beat :)” 

Louise:

“Drumming classes with Steve are always fantastic fun and highly energising. However, the fact that we're gradually working towards a live performance makes them even more exciting. Steve has a charismatic teaching style and always pitches the classes just right, ensuring that both beginners and more advanced drummers are contributing.  The performances we've done over the last year have been great and it's always so good to see the response from the audience. As a group we were particularly proud of the latest one we've done, which included 3 pieces that we've learnt over quite a long period of time. The atmosphere on the day was brilliant and there was such a sense of camaraderie with all our fellow drummers in terms of what we'd achieved. I only discovered drumming just over a year ago and wish I had sooner - it's just the best tonic for lifting your spirits, which for most of us with busy lives is an absolute essential!”

When someone asked me about why I put these performance pieces together I told them,

“The class we run on Thursday nights has been gigging more regularly for the last year after a period of sporadic short one-off sets at charity events. Although these were valuable showcases and entertaining, the performances had no on-going development or legacy. This year, after having done some short performances at various local events, I realised how much I loved composing and arranging.
With such a devoted passionate group of students, I decided it would be great to keep everything we were performing alive so we could build a repertoire. This is the result so far - our first 30 minute set comprising three tracks; each of which is a sort of 3-groove sandwich with funky breaks in between.
This gig I know will be the first of many, but it has been a big milestone in the group’s development and has provided a massive boost of confidence and self-belief.”

Steve Rivers, class teacher and Unbeatable Energy director.

Our African Drumming classes take place every Thursday night in Sheffield City Centre.  You don’t need to become part of the performance group to become part of the class and you don’t need any prior experience of drumming or music making.  All drums are provided.  Over the weeks you will learn the sounds, breaks and techniques towards arrangements which can culminate in a performance.  African Drumming is highly invigorating, therapeutic, social and very addictive!  Why not come and join us this Thursday! Click here for full details and to book your place.

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