Bedford Djembe Group
High energy African drumming and song on Tuesdays in Clophill near Hitchin
At last there is now an African drumming group near Bedford, where you can learn traditional rhythms from West Africa and sing the joyous songs they accompany. As well as djembe we play dun duns, Ghanaian drums and percussion. You can drop in any week, but you'll get the most out of it with regular attendance.
Here you can see some of us performing in December 2009 as part of a Bedfordshire Music showcase concert, and below as part of Bedford Busking Festival in 2011. Other gigs include the Paralympics (which went ballistic!) and charity firewalks, as well as school concerts and fetes. In 2013 we rehearsed and performed at Letchworth Street Fest and Woburn Village Festival with Affinity Tribal dancers who added colour and flair to our performances! More recently we've played at Bedfordshire University in 2015 and at private parties.
> > > Watch us busking on Youtube! :-)
If you'd like us to perform at your event, please check our performance spec and then contact us with the date+time, location and type of event so we can give you an accurate quote. A typical 20-minute performance costs around £120 + travel costs.
We usually play in The Birch Room (pictured here) which is right down the end of the car park/driveway opposite the house, except for once a month when Reiki is on in there, so then we play in the Yurt (very vibey!) just on the right hand side of the car park as you drive in, or possibly The Garden Room instead. The next Reiki dates for 2017 are on Tuesdays Jan 24th, Feb 14th, Mar 14th Apr 11th, May 9th, June 13th, Jul 11th (tbc), Aug 8th, Sep 19th, Oct 10th, Nov 14th and Dec 19th, but it should be easy to tell the difference between folk laying hands on bodies and laying hands on drums :-)
On summer evenings if the weather is hot and no rain forecast, we often play outdoors in the woods, at least until 8:30pm when the rising dew starts to make the drums damp. If you can't find us in the building, we usually leave a note explaining that we're in the woods, located at the end of a long straight track which begins from the car park entrance, going up the field (with the Yurt on your left) and carrying on through the gap in the trees until you come to a clearing at the top. You can drive cars up there safely, or enjoy the 200m walk as an ideal time to relax and unwind before you immerse yourself in the lovely energy of the woods and catch some of the special vibes of this magical place...
[Previously my Bedford classes had originally been at Elstow Bunyan Chapel on Fridays from April-June 2009. Then we moved to Tuesday evenings in The Arena Building at Bedford College until summer 2011.]
We meet on Tuesday evenings, with the classes for various levels starting at 7pm and ending at 10pm. We welcome new members any week, so come along when you can, at 8pm if it's your first time. We'll pause for a short break from 9-9:15pm to chat, so bring a drink if you like.
We will be continuing our Tuesday classes all through the Easter holidays, except for 11th April 2017 when there is no class. Any other weeks where the class is not happening will be announced here and also on our (low-traffic) mailing list, so sign up for updates by sending me an email if you want to be kept informed of dates and other local drumming-related events/news. Here's a printable flyer if you have a noticeboard to publicise the sessions.
The sessions are structured so that everyone gets some focus on their level of playing ability. Please note that we've now changed the order of the sessions, so I can program up the Intermediate players with the bassline parts ready to support the Beginners and Improvers when they arrive. If you're not sure which category would benefit you most, just come at 8pm.
|Level||Arrive at||Leave at||Focus time|
Level 3 = Intermediates (this first session is by invitation only)
Before coming to this session, Intermediate/Experienced players should first be assessed as to your level, because there are lots of relative scales of player (your "advanced" might only correspond with our "improver" level) and many people think they're either worse or better than than they might actually be. This way we can keep a tight ship of similarly-focused players keen to extend their technique. Intermediate players may stay for the whole session (better value, since the cost is the same regardless), but should arrive at 7pm to avoid missing out on learning new rhythms. After 8pm they play basslines to support the Beginners and Improvers when they arrive.
Level 0+1 = New Starters + Beginners
The half-hour from 8-8:30pm will cater for New Starters and Beginners, going slowly through simple parts for rhythms we'll play faster later on when other players arrive. Complete New Starters who've never played a drum before need to arrive at 8pm for briefing on the basic techniques, and can stay for the break from 9-9:15pm, or leave sooner if they feel like they're getting out of their depth or their head is full! They are welcome to join us any week, although private tuition beforehand is always beneficial, either one-to-one or in small groups. Beginners should also arrive at 8pm and likewise can stay for the break to chat, after which we pace up.
Level 2 = Improvers
Improvers also arrive at 8pm and spend the first half hour learning dun dun parts, then at 8:30pm join the Beginners on djembe, and stay on until 10pm.
As long as they are keen players (not just being brought along due to lack of childcare at home) and can behave maturely, older children aged 12 and above are welcome (but not younger, as it changes the energy), accompanied by a parent. I also sometimes teach separate groups for younger children aged 7-11.
- £12 weekly drop-in rate for everyone (or see below for reduced-price subscriptions)
To encourage regular attendance which leads to faster progress, I also offer reduced prices to frequent attendees for 4-week blocks paid for in advance, at a cost of £35, saving £13 each month (please add on £1/week djembe hire as well).
|Month||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4|
This saves you money over the single weekly drop-in payment: basically the idea is that even if you can only make it to three weeks out of four, then it's still cheaper to subscribe. Plus, if you can't make it one week, you're welcome to attend my other group instead (at no extra charge to subscribers), as both groups run in parallel. Please note that payments are not carried forward to next month if you only make it twice one month (unless I have to cancel a session you paid for), but are just for the dates above.
If you join us at the start of a month, then advance payment can be decided upon at the end of your first session; if you love it, go for it! Or if you're not sure that you can commit, or if you join in mid-month, just keep paying weekly until subscriptions are due next month.
Your support is gratefully recognised and makes for a more cohesive group. By becoming a subscriber you are showing your support and you know that the group will be running even your absence, as we can't run on thin air.