Category Archives: Drumming

Fanga

Our new drumming class appears to be a success. We had 22 drummers in the third week up from 12 in week one. One thing that makes the class interesting is that it is not just about drumming. There’s hand-clapping, knee-slapping, foot-stomping and even singing.

The song that Dave has been teaching us is called Fanga (though it is often pronounced and written ‘funga‘) and is worth saying more about.

Fanga is an African greeting song. In our version, each line is sung first by the instructor and then echoed back by everyone else. The lyrics that we learned are:

Fanga alafia, ashe ashe

Fanga alafia, ashe ashe

Ashe ashe

Ashe ashe

Fanga alafia, ashe ashe.

Note that ‘ashe’ is pronounced ‘a-shay’. The song Fanga was written by Babatunde Olatunji, a Nigerian born who spent much of his life introducing African music to America. The words are from the Yoruba language of Nigeria while the melody is taken from the American song ‘Li’l Liza Jane‘. See the Wikipedia link for Fanga song for more historical information.

But fanga is not just a song – it is also a rhythm and a dance. Here are some audio and video links for Fanga that are worth checking out:

Now if we could just get our dancers, drummers and singers together maybe we could put on quite a show.

 

Drumming is Coming to Nanaimo

Drumming (therapy) classes for PWP (Persons with Parkinson’s) is coming to Nanaimo.

After a successful demonstration at the February PD Support Group, the first of four weekly hour-long classes will take place on Wednesday March 1 2017 at 3pm. If all goes well and interest is good, there will be more sessions to follow.

Lessons will be led by Dave McGrath, a local Nanaimo drummer who also makes his own African style hand drums which we will use for the lessons. If you are interested in participating or just want more information and you are not a member of the support group (in which case you would have received an invitation email from us) then send us a message through the Contact Menu.

Djembe Drums By Vahram Mekhitarian - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Djembe Hand Drums
Image by Vahram MekhitarianOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

 

Drumming as Therapy

A page on the about.healing.com website on the Therapeutic Effects of Drumming (accessed 2017-02-26) has the following:

Drum therapy is an ancient approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression. From the shamans of Mongolia to the Minianka healers of West Africa, therapeutic rhythm techniques have been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Current research is now verifying the therapeutic effects of ancient rhythm techniques. Recent research reviews indicate that drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system and produces feelings of well-being, a release of emotional trauma, and reintegration of self.

Other studies have demonstrated the calming, focusing, and healing effects of drumming on Alzheimer’s patients, autistic children, emotionally disturbed teens, recovering addicts, trauma patients, and prison and homeless populations. Study results demonstrate that drumming is a valuable treatment for stress, fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental illness, migraines, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, paralysis, emotional disorders, and a wide range of physical disabilities.

The article goes on to say:

Drumming Accesses the Entire Brain

The reason rhythm is such a powerful tool is that it permeates the entire brain. Vision for example is in one part of the brain, speech another, but drumming accesses the whole brain. The sound of drumming generates dynamic neuronal connections in all parts of the brain even where there is significant damage or impairment such as in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). According to Michael Thaut, director of Colorado State University’s Center for Biomedical Research in Music, “Rhythmic cues can help retrain the brain after a stroke or other neurological impairment, as with Parkinson’s patients…” The more connections that can be made within the brain, the more integrated our experiences become.

I’ve been to several of Dave McGrath’s evening group lessons and they are both fun and challenging – good exercise for the brain and the arms.