Middle School music students got a treat this week as Zorkie Nelson brought his rhythmic drum sounds to their music class, teaching them a bit about playing the drums and his native culture.
Nelson, who has been playing the drums for 45 years, brought the students up slowly at the beginning. He encouraged them to get comfortable with the top of the drum and the different sounds their hands make when they clap against the tight top.
He then divided the students into groups and had them play different aspects of the same tune but to a different rhythm.
“You sound great!” Nelson exclaimed as the students finished up each piece on their Kpanlogo drums.
Nelson comes from a long line of Ghanaian master drummers in West Africa. He was a founding member of the Pan-African Orchestra (PAO) which toured the US, Canada, France, and the UK for 10 years.
He is on the staff of the Hamilton Hill Arts Center in Schenectady. Zorkie leads his own group, Gballoi, and was a member of Yacub Addy’s Ghanaian ensemble Odadaa!, which toured with Wynton Marsalis. He plays as a drummer, vocalist, and flute player in the eclectic jazz fusion group HEARD.
Here are a few photos from Sue Weisman’s grade 7 music class today.