Finding teachers and communities: evaluating Djembe-L FAQ

Note: also this site is listed on our blog’s links page, under Djembe Links, at the second from the bottom. My own posting is an evaluation of the site.

Djembe-L FAQ has been around for quite a while, perhaps into the 1990’s. Among many other features, this site links (on the right side) to three different categories: African Drum Circles, Dance Teachers and finally USA Drum Teachers. I don’t know if the listings are submitted by the teachers themselves, or by anybody. Nor do I know if there is any review process?

Although sometimes dated, (the link to “USA study camps” appeared not to have been updated since 2006) and rarely obscure (drum circles in northern and southern California were basically Ashby BART and Venice Beach), the listings themselves are good, at least for the areas with which I have recent experience: El Paso, Santa Fe, and parts of California. The site’s not infrequent links to Texas organizations makes me suspect a regional bias, and this may be more or less helpful depending on your part of the country.

For example, looking for Dance Teachers, and then clicking on Afro-Cuban teachers, produces only two hits: Berkeley and New York city. In my personal experience, I know Boston and Los Angeles also have resources.

In fact, it might be interesting to dig into the Connecticut links? One of the more interesting was a link to a UConn event: Monday nights at 7 pm. Does anybody know if this is still happening?

Keep in mind: sometimes you have to look in several places. As an example, the “USA Drum Teachers” link (for New Mexico) produced accurate information: in addition to an Albuquerque listing, I got a hit for Santa Fe’s Railyard, the town’s central place, and the same venue where I took my first lesson with Abdoul Doumbia, back in 1995! Also Las Cruces, a little more than an hour from my hometown of El Paso, Texas, had accurate and complete listings.

But searching in a different place, using the “African Drum Circles” section, produced no hits for Connecticut (compare to the link above), yet it did yield a new link for Santa Fe, and even gave contact information for Akeem Ayanniyi, who is one of the Southwest’s best resources. He has led his group in performances for the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival, and he regularly visits Universities as an invited guest. His troupe is named “Agalu.”

Overall, the site is the most comprehensive one I’ve found, and it can connect you with those communities and teacers who are already well-established.

Matthew Hill

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