Drum workshop in Cromwell

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Cromwell College was alive with the sound of music on Saturday as about 30 people learnt West African drumming techniques at a hands-on workshop.

Ghana-born Koffie Fugah has taught West African drumming all over the world for the past 15 years.

Mr Fugah said the Cromwell class was full of energy. It included people from all walks of life, with some travelling from Wanaka and Queenstown.

He said the communal nature of Djembe drumming was part of the appeal.

“It makes people happy. Also it’s about friends coming together and that’s what people like.

“African drumming does that naturally. That is the meaning of Djembe .. to gather together.”

As well as learning West African drumming techniques, the group was also taught traditional dance moves.

Mr Fugah said while some people were hesitant to begin with, they soon loosened up and embraced the music.

Dancing and drumming helped boost self confidence, he said, and it was rewarding to see his students improve over the course of the class.

“It improves people’s confidence a lot.

“I hear people tell me, ‘I can’t do it, I have no rhythm.’

“Of course, everyone has rhythm. Anyone can do it – anyone.

“You, the teacher, have to always encourage the students.”

Mr Fugah said he planned to return to Cromwell regularly to teach classes, with the next class scheduled for July 22. For more information, visit www.robertfugah.co.nz.