Finding your drums

Oliver mentioned again over dinner the other night that he wants to take up the drums. We asked him to focus on his saxophone, but he insisted he is interested in the drums.

At that, we told him all the ways he could show us he had a drummer’s rhythm without us buying an expensive kit that he might use a few times and then forget: he could slap the small djembe we’ve had in our house for 20 years, or he could bang on an overturned plastic pail, or he could even get some bamboo and tap on it with a flip-flop.

I pulled up a YouTube video of Futuna Fatuana to show him how the ni-Vanuatu make music with bamboo and with glass bottles filled to various levels. I once brought that troupe to Paama as part of a music education project I organized. I also paid for the generator to run one night so I could show the students (and their families from the surrounding villages) the video Stomp Out Loud. (In Cleveland, before we set out for the Peace Corps, Erin and I had seen the touring music show Stomp.)

Here’s what I wrote in my Peace Corps Description of Service document (a final report before a volunteer closes out his/her service):

Peace Corps Vanuatu offered a Small Project Assistance grant in 1998 to support Anton’s What A Bang! music education project, which brought a popular “stringband” from Futuna Island to Vaum Junior Secondary School to demonstrate instruments made with local materials (e.g. bamboo, empty Coke bottles, and rubber sandals). To this day students improvise music on handcrafted instruments such as ukulele, tin can drums and bamboo whistles. VJSS has begun to collect and use various musical instruments for music education and class sing-a-longs.

After dinner, Oliver retrieved paint cans and plastic pails fro the shed and made himself a makeshift drum kit in the laundry room. He banged on it for an hour or so and called it a night. The laundry room has been cluttered with the kit for the last few days. After his soccer practice yesterday, we were driving past School of Rock—I mentioned he should take an introductory drum lesson, and he quickly found the company’s website and requested more information.



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