April 16, 2019
by Irene Hernández Sánchez, Spain
“To the beat of the drum we travel on
Courageous we sail into the storm
Singing our song and feeling strong
On a voyage to where we all belong”
~Morcheeba – Beat of the Drum
I have always felt hopelessly attracted by the rhythm. I bought myself a pair of drumsticks when I was 6 – it was my first owned part from an entire drum set.
Then I got distracted following 1000 other threads: studies, ballet classes and a huge list of projects and ’to do things‘.
But the beat of the drum kept coming to me.
I went to a music summer camp when I was around 13 and met a drumming teacher who showed me the basics to play Cajón flamenco. I fell in love: the rhythm directly from my heart, to my hands to the Cajón and out into the space for others to catch it and move with it. Pure impulse!
After an intense week playing and making music with other young people passionate about music, I came back feeling full and excited! I so wanted to continue. … But slowly I forgot about it again. Cajón and percussion got buried in the 1000 other threads as I became distracted.
It took more than 10 years for the drum to come back, this time through an ex-boyfriend. He knew I loved it but I never found the time or energy to practice. So he bought me a Cajón to have at home. I was staring at it and it was staring at me for 2 years. It was hard to find the impulse to play with it on my own.
After breaking up with him and continuing with the 1000 other threads, I found a class for adults to learn Cajón in Murcia (my home town and where I´m based right now) and didn´t doubt it. I signed up! This was only 3 years ago.
It started as just a place to unplug from the daily stress and fast speed rhythm of multitasking with 20 different projects. In this hour, I had to put all my attention into one thing: following, understanding and practicing the rhythm pattern the teachers were showing us. Letting the fingers and hands copy first and then flow on their own. It was actually a moving meditation in a way very similar to the 5Rhythms!
After some months, we started to do some small shows in local cafes and also began to collaborate with a local dance group of flamenco dancers, or as we say in flamenco slang, ’bailaoras‘. The whole journey was also starting to become a visit to my cultural and musical Spanish roots.
Meanwhile, I always wanted to introduce live music into my 5R classes. Some of my most profound and ’trance‘ dances had been with live music in the 1st Module of the Waves Teacher Training with Robert, Sanga of the Valley and Marc Lendfers and in the 3rd Module with Lucia Horan giving us TIT´s keys to works with musicians and use percussion in our classes. But bringing this to my community was not that easy.
Before starting with my percussion group, I invited a friend who is a professional clarinet player. She was not into improvisation so she brought a musical partiture to follow. I played a wave and she came in during the Lyrical phase while I slowly faded out the music. But because it was played as a performance, dancers slowly stopped dancing and sat to enjoy the ’show‘. It was a good teaching for all of us about the choice between being in service and doing the show. It also showed us the importance of the place and intention from where we guide, and what a big impact this creates in the group and the whole.
One year after that, I was really into Cajón mode and offered a session at the beach where I played. I was nervous and not totally ready to improvise and enjoy! I found it almost impossible to play and guide with words at the same time. But it was a yummy beginning. Dancers loved it and felt the impulse and inspiration of the drum. A whole new world opened up for me.
Slowly, I continued adding some drum moments in classes and workshops. I also collaborated with the Hungarian teacher Péter Féjer in a summer workshop where there were amazing musicians playing live music in some sessions. By the time I danced with the French teacher Guillaume Laplane in the Moroccan desert with live music, I was much clearer about what I wanted to bring into my offerings.
Last year, I invited a violinist friend for a ’Spring Equinox’ special class in Murcia and we both improvised (cajón + violin). It was such a magical experience. To be able to connect again with heartbeat, hands, cajón, feet moving, inhales and exhales, violin moans, cries and whispers. Co-creating, offering, inspiring and being inspired. It was such a special musical dance, a deep conversation between us and the dancers through rhythms and melody.
After that, I started to talk about the 5Rhythms to my Cajón group. Most of them thought it was a weird New Age practice but they slowly got interested. After 2 years of seducing them, they said yes to come and play in a special class (the last before the summer break last year). It was so beautiful! Vibrating, from the earth to the soles of our feet, moving through our hearts, bodies and rhythmic minds, awakening our hungry souls!!
You can see some moments of it here:
Here is a video explanation of some keys to dancing with live percussion:
The dancers shared that they felt truly inspired and found new movements and patterns. They felt the “tribe” vibe, they remembered a tribal sense of intuition and connection that was alive but buried deep down. The percussionists were also deeply impressed by the energy that was created. They shared that they had never felt such powerful feedback –much more than the final applause after a show. They said it was so uplifting and rewarding to find the ’dance’ between our offering and the dancers´ offering. It was a rhythmic soulful conversation. At the end, we all bowed down in their direction, touching the earth: something they´ll never forget.
We repeated the percussion offering for a special class held last December and again, the potency of the live vibration was magical for all of us.
I have had the dream of creating music and sharing rhythms ever since I can remember. I never knew how it would unfold. From my ‘little’ mind, I could have made so many plans (Oh god, I´m such a planner and have such a future-focused mind). But I just kept listening to the whispers of the drum, when it was time. And the dream came true. That is, for me, the thread that Gabrielle talks about. The one that gives purpose and direction to this life and cannot be controlled, but must be listened to, honored, danced and breathed.
To the beat of the drum, we travel on!!!