The polyrhythmic sounds of African drums resonated throughout the Germantown Avenue commercial corridor recently. This “call of the drum” formed the sounds of a drumming circle inside the Ausar Auset Society, 6008 Germantown Ave. where master drummer Mohamed “Yiddie” Bangoura led his first session on Saturday, March 31 at 3 p.m. Among the group were first time drummers like 8-year-old Brandon Aldrich of Mount Airy as well as more experienced adult learners.
On hand videotaping the entire program was Faith Fisher. She met Bangoura during a trek through the West Coast of Africa several years ago. She was impressed with his drumming prowess and professional career as a drum master throughout his native Guinea and other African nations like Gambia and Senegal.
“We are now married, and he is making his home in the area,” Fisher said, who has also become stepmother to Bangoura’s young daughter, Mahawa. “My African name is Bintou, but I am also known as Faith. My husband does not speak English fluently, but he can speak five languages fluently. When he teaches the drums he lets the (demonstrations) do the teaching and the students understand.”
Bangoura took the multi-generational classroom, which included his daughter, slowly through basic rhythms. As they acquired the mastery of these he would count off as he weaved the different beats into one. The students quickly followed his lead as they made the transitions for more than two hours even though the class was technically an hour and a half.
Fisher added that her husband began training on the instrument when he was a young boy. His drum master’s name was Balla, and he acquired great agility on the drum by the time he was 11 years old. “That’s why he is now ready to teach the history, culture and call of the drum to African Americans,” Fisher said.
Bangoura will continue his “Special Drum Series” of instruction at Ausar Auset after the Easter holiday. Students present at the March 31 class were asked to practice what they learned for subsequent sessions. Yet new students are always welcome — if they are aware that they must play “catch up,” according to the master drummer.
Classes will continue on Saturdays, April 14, 21 and 28 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $15 per class. For more information, visit www.ausarausetpa.com or call 215-843-0900.