September 25, 2017

Summer Caribbean Drumming Camp Begins July 7

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEE KELLY

Summer Caribbean Drumming Camp Begins July 7

Steel drum artist and music instructor, Joseph Peck, as he demonstrated how to “feel the pulse of Trinidad.”

A Caribbean Summer has come to Topanga. Pulsating rhythms softly echo through the canyon as kids of all ages take up the balmy calypso beat created in the Isles of the West Indies less than a century ago.

On June 17, the Topanga Library community room was full of folks, aged 0 to 90, listening raptly to steel drum artist and music instructor, Joseph Peck, as he demonstrated how to “feel the pulse of Trinidad.”

Everyone was fully engaged as they explored a large variety of percussion instruments and chose their "weapon of choice."

At the ready and neatly organized in a semi-circle around him, Joseph deftly instructs each enthusiast on their beats, when to strike and how long to wait before taking the next blow.

"Thom, thom, thom, thom," go the deep-toned cylindrical African drums—bongo to Congo, in all heights and sizes just like their drummers.

Joining the steady beat, but emitting different sounds are three tamboo-bamboo set-ups manned by two pre-teen boys and a 79-year-old woman. They thump the tall bamboo stalks on the floor and double-strike the sides with skinny bamboo shards—"Thom-taka, thom-taka, thom-taka."

More drums punctuate the beat—"ta-ka-di-me, ta-ka-di-me, ta-ka-di-me." Subtle scratchy rhythms sand down the sound as the many shakers, some just babies on mommies' laps, join in.

Soon, all are wholly united by the glowing, full-bodied tones of the steel pan drum when Peck takes up the mallets and begins to gently strike the impressions hollowed into the top of the drumhead. The sound is good, the tempo is even and all are fully involved. Would that the world could be so easily united as this unlikely throng.

Peck, who moved to Topanga just a couple of years ago with his wife and two little boys, will be offering a Summer Caribbean Drumming Camp at the Community House.

The eight-week session begins Tuesday, July 7, from 9:30-11a.m., and continues on most Tuesdays and Thursdays through August 6.

Drums and other instruments peculiar to the calypso sound will be provided (Have you ever played on a old brake drum?).

In addition to the many percussion instruments, the lessons include an introduction to the steel pan drum, as well as the history of how the steel drum evolved from a creased biscuit tin to its exceptional status as a musical instrument of today.

About Joseph Peck: He began his drumming career when he received a drumstick for his very first birthday.

The rest is history. He holds a degree in music from Wichita State University, one of the many places where he once taught. At 19, he discovered the steel pan drum and was mentored along the way by its inventor, Ellie Mannette.

His experience as a teacher is widespread and ranges from grade school through college.

Today, he crosses the country to offer programs for libraries and schools, has his own steel drum band, The Joseph Peck Group, that has produced several CDs.

To register and for more information: CaribbeanDrumCircle.com; (424) 272-1277.