New Music Development with ‘Drum Factory’ and Djembe Drums

By Eliya Simantov

Drum Factory's Gusti and Bawa with EBPP music team and students during the workshop in Darmaji

After the exhilarating performance of our Darmaji School Genjek-Kecak Boys Choir, that took place during the 17th of August Indonesian Independence Day celebrations in Ban, it was clear to all of us at the EBPP education team that we should help this group of young boys to develop and expand their obvious talent. Part of our plan was to acquire various musical instruments (mostly smaller percussion instruments) so that we can give our students the opportunity to use them during music classes and participate freely in a musical way in whatever is going on around them. Together with Raoul Wijffels of the One Dollar for Music foundation (www.onedollarformusic.com) we planned the contents of the”music boxes” that we intend to be placed in each of our six schools in Ban, to be used in music classes, as well as during other activities.

During a meeting with our longtime friend and advisor Denise Abe, I mentioned the fact that we’re in the process of planning and acquiring instruments for the proposed music boxes, and she immediately replied: “Well, I know Ed Balma of the Drum Factory in Ubud. He’s a good friend of mine!” As the Drum Factory (www.drumfactory.com) is the biggest hand drum manufacturer in Indonesia, and exports to over fifty countries all over the world, I was extremely happy to hear this. Not long after our meeting, we met with Ed and Gusti (the factory’s quality control man, who is also a professional percussionist) and suggested that they come and see for themselves the work that we do in Ban. Gusti, who is always encouraged by Ed to help and conduct voluntary drumming workshops for various NGOs around Bali, said he will also be glad to conduct a workshop for our students in Darmaji. “Great news!” I told Yeny, EBPP’s Education Program’s field coordinator on the Ceria phone that day, “tell the boys that very soon we’re going to have a drumming workshop conducted in the village!” Later, Yeny told me that when the music team and the young boys from Darmaji heard this news they literally jumped out of their seats with excitement!

On the way to Ban, with Ed’s car following us, we could see the clear blue skies reflected back to us from the mirror-like Lake Batur, located in a giant crater in between Bali’s highest volcanoes: Gunung Batur, Gunung Abang, and the biggest and most sacred Gunung Agung. “I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one!” I said to David, who was busy driving the narrow and twisting road ahead. “I have no doubt at all!” David replied, and in his cheerful way added “it always is!” As we continued along the winding path in between the mountains on the way to our villages, I wondered to myself how will the boys react to this new type of music and performance that is to be introduced to them.

Shortly after we arrived at our mountain office at Daya village I spoke with Gusti and Bawa, (a longtime Drum Factory employee and professional percussionist, who joined us in order to conduct the drumming workshop together with Gusti) who seemed to be surprised that a place like Ban exists less than a 90 minutes drive from Ubud. I explained to them that there is still no electricity in Daya village, apart from the solar panels that power both our office and our new Bamboo Learning Center. Also, until David and EBPP came around there was no road leading to the village, and so the locals had to walk for long hours in order to the nearest “pasar” (local market). They were even more surprised when I mentioned that Darmaji, the village where they will conduct the workshop, is still reachable only via a steep and very rocky dirt track…

Once at Darmaji, we started by introducing Ed, Gusti and Bawa to our students and staff, and asked the boys to perform one of their Genjek-Kecak pieces. It was amazing to see how the space in front of the school was instantly filled with the high energy and rhythm of this ancient musical practice. We were all drawn into their engrossing performance for a few minutes and I was glad to see Ed, Gusti and Bawa, in the corner of my eye, being captivated by the proceedings. In turn, the boys were all amazed and overjoyed by Gusti and Bawa’s playing that followed soon after. Throughout the workshop, the boys happily joined along, singing and clapping at Gusti’s behest, while many of their younger schoolmates watched in awe. While Gusti was explaining to the boys along with the other students about drumming and percussion, I saw one of the young students touching one of the large sized Djembe drums that our guests brought with them, feeling with his small fingers the goat skin hide on the top of the drum. It was obviously his first time touching such an instrument. At that moment I felt truly lucky to be a part of this project.

After Gusti concluded the workshop I was very happy to hear from Ed that they will leave the five Djembe drums that they brought with them in Ban as a donation, not knowing that only a few days later in Ubud, Ed will tell me that the Drum Factory will donate many more instruments to our music program, and that Gusti will gladly come up to Ban to conduct more drumming workshops and drum-circles for our students. On the way back down from Darmaji, when I asked Bawa how he feels after this unique experience he answered that he feels like he is “walking on air…” I think all of us were “walking on air” for a while after this first ever-event, that took place that day in Darmaji. We are certainly looking forward to having many more days like this in our villages.

Students of EBPP's Darmaji School waiting anxiously for the workshop to begin

Ed Balma of the Drum Factory presenting the Djembe drums to the students, accompanied by David J. Booth and I

Gusti and Bawa of the Drum Factory were brilliant in getting our students very enthusiastic about the new drums!

EBPP's Darmaji School's students and guests listen to Gusti, while two students (at bottom right) share their obvious excitment about the workshop

Gusti explains about the basics of Djembe drum playing, using the Balinese language, as some of our very young students don't speak Indonesian yet

Some of Darmaji School's most enthusiastic new music students join the band

Ed Balma and David J. Booth discussing the project, with Darmaji Village and Mount Abang as a backdrop

3 Comments

Lainy & Glenn Collisson

What a fantastic Opportunity to show off talent and share and educate school children, well done Gusti and Bawa from the drum factory… Love your music and the drums – Best Wishes and blessing from your Australian Family – Glenn and Lainy XX

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

only
$