Yesterday we took back to back djembe drumming workshops with Dibo Camara and our friend Dramane Kone. The workshops were full of challenging rhythms and solo parts. They were both advanced classes and pushed everyone beyond their comfort zone. I had an interesting time participating in and simultaneously observing myself and others – specifically our facial expressions and body movements. What I got from these workshops goes way beyond simply learning new techniques and rhythm concepts.

Dibo Camara (pictured) is a patient and calm instructor – at the same time intense and driving…pushing us to grasp concepts that are so unfamiliar to us. There were a lot of smiles and giggles when Dibo would play a solo part so fast but with such ease! We would smile and giggle out of sheer admiration, but also out of fear and nervousness. I felt a sense of AWE from myself and others, but also a feeling of gratitude – for being given these sacred rhythms and parts from a true drum genius! I don’t like to use the word “master”, as I don’t think we ever master anything…this is the magic of continuing our practices, right? Dibo is an elder and has gained much respect in the djembe communities because of the years he has put into his art and teaching practice. So I feel so grateful to experience his teaching, whether I remember all the parts and if I am ever able to integrate them in my own work.

Dramane Kone is a being of light, of fire, of raw energy and very high vibrations. His drumming is thunderous, fast, intense, and demanding. The most wonderful aspect of his drumming, I believe, is his obvious LOVE of what he does. As he solos and teaches, there is a constant smile on his face. And his laugh is one I’ve never heard before – so loud and pure…that everyone smiles when they hear it. Dramane is young, driven, and HAPPY! After drumming with Dibo for an hour and a half, we were all over stimulated and drained…but Dramane didn’t take it easy on us…AT ALL. His class was just as challenging and I looked around at the faces…some were like deer caught in headlights, others were laughing because they felt there was no way they could comprehend or grasp any more…others smiled along with Dramane and just did the best they could.

Halfway through Dramane’s workshop, I realized something very important to me. It doesn’t matter if I get all of the concepts and am able to reproduce the rhythms and parts I learned today. I felt amazing transmissions from each teacher. I felt blessings from both of them. I felt overwhelming happiness and gratitude for their energy. That is basically it for me. Energy exchange! This is what life is about. The energy coming from each teacher was genuine and loving. It wasn’t forced or withheld – it was given freely and generously.

This helps me when I judge others and myself in the student/teacher arena. Are they/am I coming from a place of love and light? Are they/am I giving freely of myself (with no strings attached)? Are they/am I teaching or acting from their/my truth? So as I teach others to move and sing, I will remember the transmissions I receive from my teachers – how their energy affects me in positive and transformative ways. I will teach from this place – a place of generosity and freedom.