Juliet Coombe discovers how to become a Sri Lankan drummer as part of an exciting new range of curated experiences by Jetwing Blue and Beach.
I must confess to being quite nervous about training to be a drummer but Jetwing organized a great master class with drummer and teacher Harsha. I discover my drumming teacher has been playing drums now for some 13 years since he was 9 years old and is deeply passionate about the language of music and its power on the human mind.
At the start the hotel naturalist and guide explains the rich cultural traditions of devil dancing used when village people are sick and how the weekly cultural show is a way of connecting the visitor to the island with its deeply spiritual way of life. I learn how the Sri Lankan drum tradition goes back 2500 years and that there are 33 types of drums recorded by historians, but like so many art forms it has been reduced to ten different types today.
After the talk and a few tips my drummer takes his huge black bag and unzips it and inside is an incredible collection of things to dress up in. Everything from an amazing array of adornments: garters, a glorious emperor like collar, a sort of white embroidered sarong, a red oversize cummerbund that could go right around the swimming pool, huge elbow bangles, giant earrings and to cap it all the worlds longest white turban. Once dressed up you do feel more part of the scene and somehow it takes away the painful self-consciousness of hitting the drum with a stick and your thumbs.
Once I had learnt the basic hand and thumb drumming techniques and shown a few more steps, and how to throw my head back in the air and jump I started to find myself enjoying the experience of learning the transfixing language of the drum and devil dancing. The mix of the sea, jangle of my foot bells and rhythmic drumming sounds drew people from all over the hotel complex to see what was going on and as I explained the fascinating ancient art form their eyes lit up and one could see from the incredible interest in this living healing art form that Jetwing are onto another winning formula.