Wednesday, 14 March 2012
60 SECONDS INTERVIEW: Ralph Cree
MAGIC Drum provides drumming workshops and rhythm-based training for school, community and corporate clients across the south of England.
The Magic Drum concept was conjured up by Dorchester born Ralph Cree and co-founder Glyn Bush. Both are skilled workshop facilitators with a wealth of experience as teachers and professional musicians, with expert knowledge of Samba, Brazilian and African rhythms and the music of Cuba and Jamaica.
Here Ralph tells us all about drumming and explains what’s so “magic” about group drumming.
Ralph is 34-years-old and lives in Owermoigne with his partner Dizzi Dulcimer and their dog Jeff.
Magic drum are available to do workshops with your group or organisation and the Magic Drum Orchestra is available to perform at events.
HOW did you come across drumming?
When I was five I learned piano at school, but I went off it quite quickly. I didn’t do any music again until I was 13-years-old when my school were offering a term's free tuition for any instrument and my parents said I should take the opportunity. I chose the rock drums and loved it straight away. When I was 16 I was drummer in my first band which was called Bunga and included Chris Martin from Coldplay.
HOW did you come to be good at so many styles of drumming?
My first teacher was a military drummer, which was a good starting point. Then I went travelling throughout India and South East Asia and came across lots of different cultural drumming styles. When I went to university in London to study World Music and Religion I became familiar with even more drumming styles such as African, Cuban and Brazilian Samba drumming.
HOW did Magic Drum come into being?
When I finished university I moved back to Dorset where I bumped into Glyn Bush who had started a band called Lightning Head. He recruited me to play percussion and part of that included Brazilian Samba drumming. The band lasted about year and then Glyn and I decided we’d start teaching Samba drumming. That was back in 2004. So, we went on an Arthur Hull training weekend. Arthur is like the grandaddy of the Drum Circle movement. The course we did was on drum circle facilitation which is about informal, in the moment drumming – like jamming with drums. The facilitator acts like a conductor so it’s not just a free for all. Everyone’s improvising so the facilitator orchestrates it so it’s not complete chaos. The music just starts happening.
AND how have things moved on since then?
We got hooked on the idea of using drumming as a way to build communities. We started doing drum circle workshops at Dorchester Arts Centre once a month and that’s when we really became Magic Drum. I bought a load of African and Brazilian drums and percussion, and did our first drum circle and 75 people showed up - all ages, from toddlers to people in their 80s. We still do those workshops but only four times a year now because other things have also taken off. Now I teach drums in schools and do corporate and team building workshops for all sorts of businesses, organisations and community groups. I also teach music technology and do a small amount of paid performing.
TELL us about the performance section of Magic Drum?
The Magic Drum Orchestra is a 20 piece professional Samba band. This summer we are already booked to play at the Larmer Tree festival in Dorset and at Cloud Cuckoo Land which is held near Cheddar in Somerset. We have played at Big Chill, Camp Bestival and lots of local festivals and we also do workshops.
WHAT is so “magic” about drumming?
From my experience of group drumming I can honestly say that if I’ve had a hard day and then do a couple of hours of drumming then it makes me feel very alive. There’s loads of research to show the link between wellness and drumming; it boosts the immune system, relieves stress… group drumming that is.
WHAT do you say to people who think they have got no rhythm?
I have never met anyone with no rhythm. We work with people who may feel sheepish about trying or have never played an instrument before but within five minutes we have them playing and smiling. It’s never not happened.