|Mike Bennett has been playing the djembe and other|
West African percussion instruments since making
his first trip to Gambia in 1999. Photo from
Lamoine, Maine may be a small town, but its rich with the sounds of West African culture thanks to professional percussionist Mike Bennett. The seasoned percussionist expanded his drumming repertoire to include world drumming in 1999, when he made his first trip to Gambia.
By studying the djembe, Bennett learned that West African music uses rhythm in a different way than other genres. In fact, learning the unique rhythms of West African music helped him enhance his own playing. Returning to Africa yearly since his first visit, Bennett has studied other West African instruments, including the sabar and balafon, and has brought home 40 to 50 drums and percussion instruments.
Bennett shares his knowledge of hand drumming and West African rhythms by teaching basic hand drumming techniques in community workshops. He likes to teach the djembe, in particular, because it’s an instrument that everyone can play and enjoy. “I’ve never seen anybody get behind one of these drums and not be happy,” he told WABI TV5. “For some reason when you play a drum, people just start to smile." The story reporter even got a mini lesson from Bennett, and it didn’t take her long at all to pick up the Yankadi rhythm or break out a smile.
X8 Drums gives a big thank you to Bennett for bringing djembe music and West African rhythm to his community! We encourage any djembe player to share their knowledge of West African rhythms with their own community, as hand drumming is a wonderful community activity that everyone can and should enjoy.