Keeping the beat: Queen Mary students celebrate Black history and excellence with the Drum Café
To kick-off Black History Month, students at Queen Mary Elementary participated in a drum workshop facilitated by Mbuyiselo Ncapayi and his team at the Drum Café.
The Drum Café is an organization that provides drumming workshops for corporate and school groups to unite, uplift and inspire through music and rhythm. Students were each supplied with a djembe (African drum) to play while Ncapayi led the group’s songs and beats. Primary students had no trouble keeping tempo and drumming when prompted. Intermediate students were enthused when they were given permission to get loud on their drums. Students also had the opportunity to try a variety of other percussion instruments including triangles, maracas and even wooden frogs!
Ncapayi, who is originally from South Africa, explained to students that the djembe, which has origins in Ghana and West Africa, was not only used as an instrument to create music but also used to communicate from one village to another. “Drums have been part of culture since time began in Africa,” Ncapayi explained “They have been the message of Africa and the voice of Africa. They continue to revive the world with their sound.”
He further explained that the purpose of the workshop was to communicate with students and attempt to have them sync the sounds of multiple drums to produce one voice.
The idea for this event was brought forth by a Queen Mary parent who is passionate about sharing Black history and culture with students.
When asked what he thought of the experience, Grade 6 student Arjun said, “my favourite part of today was learning about the history of the African tribes, how far back they go and how they were able to make instruments, and how they communicated.”
Arjun who also practices drumming at home on the Indian tabla, said that it was an intense experience but a good one. “All the hands beating on the drums, the low bass, to the high treble. It’s like you feel that good rumble in your heart that really gives you this positive message,” he reflected.
While the students at Queen Mary may need a little more practice before they perform publicly, the act of collective drumming and “good rumble in their hearts” is sure to have left a lasting impression on both students and teachers alike.