Educational Workshopss

Conducted by Rodrigo Chavez, Percussionist/ educator

This is a practical and interactive “hands-on” drumming workshop directed and adapted to students of G 3 to High school levels, according to their ability and musical capacity. The workshops are designed to give the students a basic knowledge on the congas, bongos, bass drums, maracas, guiro and cowbells through a selection of many Latin American rhythms. It is an inclusive workshop where all students are invited to participate on a safe environment of drumming appealing to all gender, religious and cultural orientation. No musical background is required. Respect, attention, focus and memory are encouraged since Latin rhythms are complex and they are based on oral tradition. It is a collective experience since historically Afro-Latin rhythms were played by large groups of Africans in the plantations of the New World. By taking their wisdom, history and art into the schools, we can involve the whole class in learning and performing some of these beautiful rhythms. The students will acquire a rich musical vocabulary by understanding other cultures, new and old forms of expression. All instruments are provided by the instructor: bongos, congas, shakers, maracas, cowbells, bass drums, guiros, claves and Samba instruments -enough for the whole class!! Singing and dancing are also part of the workshop since this is a multidisciplinary program aiming to develop all senses, body and memory. This is an integral part of the curriculum, learning about culture and music of the Americas. Theory on the African wisdom, culture, and intricate drum techniques are also part of the workshop.

Latin Drumming Corporate Workshop

Salsa, Bolero, Cha-cha-cha, Conga, Rumba, Bemebe (CUBA)/ Samba, Batucada, Olodum (BRAZIL)/ Merengue, Bachata (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC)/ Cumbia (COLOMBIA)/ Calypso, Soca (TRINIDAD), Parranda (VENEZUELA), Festejo and Lando (PERU).
A short 30-45 min. performance can be planned at the end of the workshop. The performance usually culminates with the full participation of students PLAYING a SAMBA or CONGA-LINE!

Since year 2000 I have been teaching and conducting workshops of Afro-Latin music and Native music of Central and South America. Before that, I have studied classical guitar in Buenos Aires, Argentina and traveled through Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia, seeking out masters of Native and Afro-Latin music to connect these traditions with my own creative vision.
Currently, I teach for the OAC (Ontario Arts Council) through the Artists in Education Program and I am the Artistic Director of CASSAVA LATIN BAND, composing contemporary Latino-Canadian music, exploring the rich variety of Latin Rhythms and performing on different stages around Canada and the USA. I also conduct percussion workshops focus on Latin American Music, presenting an ecological approach to sound and environment, as part of an educational integrated arts program called “Global Rhythms”. I present this workshop to different Boards of Education, performing yearly in many schools and universities of Ontario. I constantly take part on a variety of other multi-disciplinary projects, with such companies as “Angikam Dance Initiative”, a classical Indian Kathak dance troupe, “Esmeralda Enriquez” Flamenco Dance Company, recording for Kiran Ahluwalia Indo-Pakistani Singer and playing for “Mediterraneo” Greek Music Ensemble, directed by master bouzuky player Kostas Apostolakis.
I feel that the teaching of drumming, especially when drawing on the oral traditions and the techniques of ancient cultures, offers the students an opening into an entirely new set of tools for their personal expression. Students develop listening skills, respect for their instruments and themselves, and the mental discipline required to master complex Afro-Latin rhythms. They learn how to interact with each other unselfishly and co-operatively. As the students create and perform music on their own instruments, this undoubtedly will promote gains in self –esteem. The teachings give students a fuller understanding not only of the music, but of the day-to-day reality of other cultures. By playing the conga drums or the cowbells, for example -by becoming a part of that musical tradition- they learn about and gain an understanding of those cultures. My teaching philosophy is grounded in giving students tools for their own creation. These tools open a window to an entirely new world of expression, a world that is both magical and connected to their own reality. They can then explore in the context of their daily life, and create new forms of expression.

- Rodrigo Chavez -
Any room with enough chairs for a “drum-circle”. All drums and equipment are provided by the instructor, you don’t need to buy or rent anything. 34 students Max (at once).
All year round

Rodrigo Chavez, Workshop Instructor