Last Saturday my friend Sunny, who is a graduate student fulfilling her music education major, invited me to join her in a Samba band workshop that is held in the College of Fine Arts. For those of you who might not be aware, within the School of Music at CFA, there is a major that focuses on music education. Students within the major have the goal of graduating with all of the skills needed to teach others about music. The workshop that day was a foundational requirement of a musical education observation class. Students would observe this Samba band class, which would be performing at the Samba School in New York next week. I was the only person who went to this workshop for fun.

Dr. Dana Monteiro was the guest speaker. He works at the Frederick Douglass Academy in New York City and he is the Samba band organizer and educator. When he stepped in the classroom, I was shocked. Dr. Monteiro had brought so many different types of Samba instruments such as drums of four different sizes, a bell and a weird instrument that looked like a bowl. Each of us had to choose one instrument and we had to play it all together to combine as one Samba song. I was super nervous because I am not a person with good sense of tempo, especially in a teamwork project, but Dr. Monteiro said even a person who has never learn this before could join very quickly.

Earlier this week, CFA students attended a Samba music workshop. PHOTO COURTESY OF ZHYIAN DENG

Earlier this week, CFA students attended a Samba music workshop. PHOTO COURTESY OF ZHYIAN DENG

Dr. Monteiro told us that just one Samba song can be longer than one hour. I knew before that we were going to have to stand for at least two hours, so I chose a lighter and smaller drum, called the Caixa. There were three huge drums that the players didn’t need to carry, but Dr. Monteiro has mentioned that those were the foundation drums that were usually played by the best player in the room. There was also a person holding the bell and a few people held a bowl-shaped instrument called the Tamborim.

Every instrument made different sounds. It just sounded like loud, obnoxious noises if we weren’t cooperating. Fortunately, everyone got a pair of earplugs. Dr. Monteiro taught us each instrument one by one. As all the students in the class had been learning about music for a long time, it was easy for them to learn these drums in a short time. For me, I found it hard to memorize the phrases for my Caixa, especially how to join other instruments and when to stop exactly. Once everyone worked together, it came out as a happy and lively Samba song.

Three hours passed so fast, but it was such a great experience for me to get some experience learning about a Samba band. I was so happy that I had learned a music instrument within such a short time.