Drum Making Class

By , November 8, 2010

This afternoon we’re headed to town for Aly’s film club and other errands. This time, unlike most times, when I look for excuses to stay home, I’m excited to go. In the evening, we’ll be attending a class at the library. We’re going to learn to make Native style drums!

I understand this is part of a grant from the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, or SEARHC, (call it “Search,” like we do). SEARHC is the Native Health Care Program, but they take good care of everyone in small towns like ours that have no hospital. They understand holistic health, which includes promoting activities like the drum class, that bring people together and stimulate their minds and hearts.

Northwest Coast Native drums are shaped like a tambourine without the “jingles,” or like a bodhran if you’re familiar with that instrument. They’re almost always painted with beautiful totemic designs. I own a bodhran, and I’ve always wanted a Native drum.

In tonight’s class we’ll each make our own drum. On Wednesday we’ll return and decorate them with—Sharpie brand permanent markers! The instructor told me that Sharpies go on very easily, and don’t come off, no matter how hard you drum. He said Klukwan’s Master Carver found Sharpies in a shade of blue that almost perfectly matches the rare shade used in traditional totemic art. Who knew? On Wednesday a drummer will come to teach and lead us in some drumming songs, as well. These aren’t just for hanging on the cabin wall!

Actually, I have slightly mixed feelings about all this. I’m really excited about the opportunity, but there was a chance Michelle and I might not have been able to participate. The program is open to all ages, but is primarily for young people. Since the class can only accommodate ten participants, we agreed when we signed up to being “bumped” so that someone younger could participate if necessary. The instructor made no mention of this when he called to remind us of the class, so I guess that means there aren’t a whole lot of people signed up.

They’ll hold the classes again in December, so there’ll be another chance, anyway. I hope we make drums nice enough to inspire others to take advantage of the offer!

2 Responses to “Drum Making Class”

  1. Jacque Smith says:

    Hi Mark! I’m a Social Media/PR intern with the Sharpie brand–could you possibly post/email me pics of the finished Sharpie-decorated drum(s)? I can’t wait to see how they turn out! 🙂

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Jacque,

    Gladly! Although, we learned last night that the decorating session won’t come until sometime in January; the exact date has yet to be scheduled. I’ll let you know when that happens, and we have photos available. We’re really excited about it, and I’m very curious to see this particular shade of blue!


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