By Melanie Cain
Some students at UIS have found a great way to escape the pressures of school work, have some fun, express their musical talents, and simply relax. Every Wednesday night you can find them participating in the World Percussion Ensemble, a music class that focuses on the rhythms and sounds of the hand drum.
The class is actually split into two different sections, each concentrating on a different aspect of drumming. The first section, taught by Doug Marshall, runs from 4 to 5 p.m. and is titled “World Percussion Rhythms.” The music selected for these students consists mostly of basic African and Middle Eastern rhythms.
During this class, students warm up with a simple beat that everyone plays together. Next, each student is assigned a different rhythm to play and finally all of the different sounds are brought together into a fantastic end product. The group is currently preparing a piece to play in the Talent Expo next Friday night.
The second section, from 5 to 6 p.m., is called “Rhythm Concepts” and is taught by Dennis Maberry. In this class the focus is more on breaking down different rhythms and learning how they all come together. While in this section the instructor also breaks down different rhythms for the students to play, the pieces selected are a little more difficult, and more time is spent learning the concepts behind the music as well as various techniques.
Both students and instructors had a variety of answers to the question “What’s your favorite part of these classes?” Amber, a sophomore, said that the classes are “fun, easy-going, and it’s something to get away from studying.” Natalie, also a sophomore, described the class as a “great way to relieve stress.”
Maberry agreed that playing the drums can be a wonderful stress reliever, and noted that drumming is beginning to be used in health care facilities to treat many types of diseases, such as cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Maberry has actually been trained in a program called Health Rhythms, which is used in hospitals, nursing homes, addiction centers, and other health facilities.
Maberry, who has been playing drums for a number of years, describes his passion for drumming and just how soothing it can be. “When you’re playing music and the groove is just right, there’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. It might sound silly, but you could almost describe it as magical, blissful. Time is suspended, and you just feel like you’re connected with everyone involved in the rhythm.”
The UIS World Percussion Ensemble meets every Wednesday night from 4 to 6 p.m. in HSB 208. Interested in finding out more? Feel free to contact either Doug Marshall or Dennis Maberry, or visit www.geocities.com/rhythmspirit for more information.