This summer I spent an entire month studying doumbek with Raquy Danziger, it was very a transformative experience. Raquy used to live in New York, but now lives in Istanbul where she can study split hand technique, and then she comes back to NY several times a year to teach. Study at the retreat focuses on learning Raquy’s compositions, but we also work on technique, clarity, timing, and speed.
Raquy structures the retreat around her normal study practices, starting each day with meditation in the morning, having group classes to work on a piece or technique a couple times a day, vegetarian meals throughout the day, and yoga in the evening. In between times are used for personal practice or practice with other students to work on sections of the compositions. During the evenings there are usually jams, or additional study, but there is also time to take a break go on a nature walk, enjoy the fireflies, play badmitten or ping pong, and enjoy the experience.
Those of us there for the month all learned two pieces, “Shame on You” by Raquy and “Drum Line” by Leron Peled. Both pieces have their own challenges and are quite intricate. The pieces really push you to learn new techniques and polish your playing style, as you want to really learn the pieces well and perform them each weekend. We also learned backing drums for “Dance of the Witches” which is a track on Raquy’s forthcoming album, and a piece played by an amazing Oud player named Hiagg Minutian (sp?). And we had jams throughout the month with amazing musicians like Carmine Guida, and we also had an great workshop with Glenn Velez who is incredible on the frame drum and other percussion. I can’t really speak highly enough about this event, it was very worth while if you are serious about doumbek and interested in split hand technique at any level.