native explores the roots of percussion
You can’t get any
closer to the root of all music than when you listen to the hypnotic,
often soul-rattling drum beats of Africa.
Rather than buy a CD or
take the trek to Africa — though I recommend we all make that trip in
our lives — to listen to these beats, why not become your own music
maker, under the tutelage of a West African native living right here in
“I want to share with
everybody everything I have learned,” said Theo Martey, in a thick
African accent. “[Music] exercises the body. Energizes. It makes you
Martey is a veteran of
African drums, having first tried his hand at this ancient art form at
the age of 6, in his homeland of Ghana.
“At that time I don’t
know anything,” he said. “I was a kid.”
But the kid grew up,
and with maturity came an ever-impressing ability to handle the skins.
Six years ago Martey
left his homeland and embarked on a worldly quest, performing shows and
conducting workshops in England, Scotland, Detroit, New York City and
now New Hampshire.
He recently conducted a
drum workshop for children at the Manchester Boys and Girls Club but has
since moved his operation to inside Murphy’s Boxing Gym at 55 Commercial
One might wonder why
learning to bang away at a wooden drum with your hands — and the
occasional drumstick — would require the instruction of a teacher.
Martey defends his
craft, saying there is a true technique to African drums, more than just
“If you don’t know how
to play drums and you whack it, you can hurt your hand,” he said.
Take, for example,
three methods of hitting an African drum. You can play bass, tone and
slap sounds with the same drum. You’ve got to know how to use your hands
for each method and know where to hit the drum. Martey wants to teach
Rhythm, of course, is
another key component to drumming. Even if you don’t have rhythm, Martey
said, he can teach you in baby steps, such as teaching you how to keep
two beats in rhythm. Once you graduate from two beats, he’ll throw in
more obstacles. If you get really good, or end up truly enjoying the
drums, Martey may recruit you to play with his Akwaaba Tradtional
African Drum & Dance Ensemble.
on Theo Martey
Theo Martey isn’t a
huge fan of rock ‘n’roll but he does appreciate a good hip-hop song
every once in a while. His favorite hip-hop artist out there today is
Nelly. He likes Nelly’s vocal flows over the beats.
Martey teaches African
drums and dancing at Murphy’s Boxing Gym, currently at 55 Commercial
St., though the gym is relocating soon.
The workshops are
Fridays (drumming workshop), 6 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays (dance
workshop), 1:15 to 2:30. The cost for six sessions is $81. You can have
a try-it-before-you-buy-it session before you make the $81 six-session
Contact Martey at
264-5582 or at email@example.com for more information.