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Session Details

Q. Isn’t it Just a Drum? A Cultural Exploration of Djembes & Congas
(Event: 2018 AMTA Conference, "Music Therapy for a Growing World")

Nov 15, 2018 7:30 am - Nov 15, 2018 12:30 pm
Session Type: Additional Course
Track: .


Across populations music therapists make use of various drums and percussion to achieve therapeutic goals. Presenter will explore the cultural roots/history of the Djembe and Conga Family, including technique, tuning, and rhythms, in effort to foster a deeper cultural understanding and aesthetic of world percussion use in music therapy.


Obj #1
Define cultural sensitivity and identify at least 3 ways to improve cultural competence as music therapists.

I.C.1 Evaluate reliability and presence of bias in information from available resources.

I.D.9. Consider client’s age, culture, language, music background, and preferences when designing music therapy experiences.

Obj #2
Replicate at least 2 traditional polyrhythms, naming their origin, ethnic/cultural group and history/reason for rhythm's existence to illustrate historical awareness and socioculturally conscious practice

II.A.4.b. Recognize how the following music therapy treatment approach and model informs clinical practice: culture-centered

IV.B.4. Interact with the client in an authentic, ethical, and culturally competent manner that respects privacy, dignity, and human rights.

Obj #3 Demonstrate fundamentals of tuning instruments and perform at least 3 fundamental sounds on the instruments provided (e.g. djembe, conga) in order to illustrate a cultural and aesthetic awareness of the music.

II.A.2. Provide music therapy experiences to address client’s: aesthetic sensitivity; motor skills; musical and other creative responses; and, utilize a varied music repertoire from a variety of cultures and subcultures.

IV.A.6. Expand music skills (Functional percussion II.A.5.i)

Obj #4
Delineate at least 3 ethical implications of music therapy practice with awareness of socio-cultural implications.

IV.B.9 Adhere to the CBMT Code of Professional Practice

IV.B.11 Practice within scope of education, training, and abilities.


(Warm Up) 5-10 mins
Open Drumming and Intro

Djembe- Cultural role and history pre America (30 min)
-Regions where it was/is played
-How it was created
-Why it was played
-How it became popular
-Djembe journey to America
-Two paths of western presentation (Babatunji Olatunji---Arthur Hull (drum circle facilitation) OR Ladji Camera---Back to Africa Movement (70s) and the replication of traditional rhythms

Djembe Tuning and Proper Technique for Sound (20)

Learning Traditional West African Rhythm (75 mins)

BREAK 15min

Conga- Tumbadora -Cultural role and History pre America (30 mins)
-Why the conga is "afro-cuban"
-Where the drum lived
- The birth of Rumba, Cajon- Conga
-Journey to America
Mambo craze in the 50s and the Cuban Embargo
Martin Cohen (LP)

Conga Tuning and Proper Technique for Sound (20)
Bass - Closed Bass
Tone - Muted Tone
Slap - Closed slap

Learning traditional Latin rhythm (75 min)

Evaluation (15)




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