Most of the children who signed up for drumming lessons didn’t
know what to expect from a musician who was born in a distant country.
But when Ibrahima
N’Gom (who asked the youngsters to call him Ibou) showed
up in colorful clothing and with his djembe (drum), the youngsters
Ibou talked about his native Senegal, where he was born into a Griot
family of traditional musicians. Without anyone saying it, it didn’t
take the youngsters long to realize that there’s a connection
between their culture and African culture, as personified by Ibou
and the music he played.
The music had a hypnotic effect on those who heard it. Often, people
in the building who had no connection to the lessons would wander
in, drawn by the energy and rhythm. They would stand quietly along
the back wall, and before long, they found themselves moving to the
Most of the youngsters had no experience with music but quickly responded
to the energy of the hand-slapped drumming. Most couldn’t stop
bobbing their heads to the beat, just like the adults who wandered
Music speaks to the heart, and hearts are the same all over the world.
Inside different skins and clothed in different apparel, hearts beat
to a similar rhythm – and the music of one culture can speak
to all. This was apparent as the drumming lessons progressed.
One of the goals of the project was to integrate a lasting cultural
musical tradition into each community and to reclaim a community cultural
heritage in music so that young people can achieve a sense of pride,
knowledge and connection to the global community of which they are
a part. Judging by the response from both sets of students, the project
did just that.