“Ray has been instrumental in establishing the foundation for West African percussion in Australia and played a pioneering role in introducing African rhythms to the wider community through live performances and running workshops around the country.”
Stani Goma – presenter and producer of
Classes are designed to suit all levels ability and experience – from curious beginners to seasoned professionals. Students will learn a number of rhythms and play a range of percussion instruments in a supportive and dynamic environment.
With a range of classes for different levels of experience in different locations, Ray oversees the progress of all students and provides regular feedback to each group.
Ray’s team is also available for special workshops, performances, corporate team building workshops and private functions.
Ray and his teachers focus on technique to help you get clear sounds out of the drums and other instruments. There is also an emphasis on how different parts of a rhythm fit together. The class format, which allows you to play your part while listening to other parts in the group, is ideal and leads to a rewarding experience of playing music with other people.
You’ll learn to play a variety of African drums, including the djembe, conga, dun duns and kpanlogo. You’ll be encouraged to extend yourself as you learn about African rhythms and master the different sounds that can be produced on the drums.
Within just a few classes, you’ll know how to find the pulse of a rhythm, how the different drum parts fit together, how bell patterns (integral to African rhythms) fit in with the drum parts, and how the rhythm is ‘called in’ and ended. This groundwork of understanding will soon give you access to many different African rhythms and the various parts in them.
Hundreds of students (beginners, intermediates, advanced, local, international, adults and kids) have benefited from Ray’s ability to deliver complex threads of traditional rhythms with a teaching style that makes them accessible and achievable.
“Since beginning classes with Ray in 1997, he has led me through many exciting, but often challenging developmental stages with my percussion. The journey has taken me from the early days of trying to get my technique right, learning to play, and hear the bell properly, being able to drum as in integrated part of a group, through to being able to free solo with confidence. Throughout this time, Ray’s own teaching techniques have developed and progressed, refining how best to lead his students though each stage, getting the best out of each individual as they progress. I have found that Ray will always have the next challenge ready for his students when they are ready, knowing how and when to push them Ray has shown me the immense depth to percussion, introducing me to not only the rhythms, songs and dance, but as importantly, the incredibly rich culture and background to this music. This was partly achieved through travelling with Ray to Ghana on the Kusun Study Tour. The tour is an incredible opportunity to immerse and imbed the music, and Africa, into your blood. The more I play, the more I realise that there is so much more I can learn, and how little I actually know. I know that Ray will continue to help me explore this exciting music, and develop my own abilities to express it.”
Glen Annetts – Student.
Drumming Class FAQs
To help ease your way we’ve answered some frequently asked questions below. If there are any questions you have that aren’t answered here, please just drop us a line.
Do I need to have a musical background?
There is no expectation of any prior musical experience. If, however, you have a musical background, Ray will be able to adapt his teaching to your existing knowledge and skills.
Do I need experience with drumming?
No need to have any experience!
New can be exciting and stimulating. It can also be scary and intimidating. Ray knows this, and uses a mix of generous encouragement and praise and humour to diffuse any uneasiness you may feel in trying out African drumming.
BUT, if you do have previous experience drumming, Ray will adapt his teaching to accommodate your existing skills and ensure you are still being challenged.
Once you are ready, you can progress to the intermediate classes.
Do I need to have good rhythm?
Good rhythm is not a necessity. It does help, but part of what you’ll learn in classes with Ray is rhythm and how to find it. Ray breaks things down to the most basic level, so you’ll be able to find your sense of rhythm!
Do I need a drum?
You don’t need your own drum – a drum can be provided for all beginner students. If you do have your own drum bring it with you. Let Ray know if you need a drum when you book your classes.
How do courses run?
Each course runs over four consecutive weeks.
Courses run all year with one course following another. New students join at the start of each course and then book in for subsequent courses at the end of each four week block if they want to continue.
Students go through a repertoire of different rhythms over a period of several courses before moving onto an intermediate class.
Can I come to class casually?
No. Preference is to have continuity in classes, and build from week to week as a group – this allows everyone to progress more rapidly, and areas that a group may find challenging can be focused on.
Can I try out a class before committing?
Occasional ‘one-off’ sessions are run where you can trial African drumming with Ray.
How much are your African drumming classes?
Cost of all 4 week courses is $100/$80concession. Payment for each 4 week course is made in advance. Eg: If you want to enroll for the course, payment is made at the first class. The same system is then repeated if you continue with subsequent courses.
Where are classes?
African drumming classes are held on weeknights in various Melbourne locations: Fitzroy, Footscray, Brunswick and Eltham. (please see Class Start Dates for more details).
What size are the classes?
Class sizes vary from 5 students to about 12, depending on the level of people taking classes at any time.
Do you offer one-on-one lessons?
Not as a general rule.
However feedback in group classes is very much tailored to you, and there will be opportunities to ask for more detailed feedback about how you can improve.
What if I can’t make it to a class?
If you not able to make it to class, please give as much notice as possible. If you are away with good reason, you won’t be charged for that class.
My son/daughter wants to attend African drumming classes. Can they come along?
Depending on their age and maturity, they may be able to join the adult classes. Please email Ray for more info. Occasionally, classes do run specifically for children. See calendar to check if there are any coming up.
(Ray: 0403 198 223)