Drummed Up Frequently Asked Questions

Can we book Drummed Up for our event and how much do you charge?

We'd love to play at your event if we can. We are not professional musicians, so many of us work during the week. If your event is on a weekday daytime then we probably won't have enough people available. Events in the evening or at weekends are usually fine as long as you give us at least three weeks notice. Please don't contact us the day before your event as we won't be able to help you. Charges are negotiable depending on how long you want us to play and how many of us can attend. We also need travel expenses, which may be in the range of £30-£40 for an 8-10 person ensemble group. Ring us on 07530 175549 for more information.

Do Drummed Up run African drumming workshops for schools?

As many of us work during the week it probably won't be possible for Drummed Up to run an African drumming workshop at your school. However, Drummed Up teacher Mark Barfoot may be available to run an African drumming workshop or African drumming lessons at your school. Mark has worked in schools throughout the north east with children from a variety of age groups and with a variety of abilities since 2004 and is fully enhanced DBS checked. You can contact him directly on 07900 677547 or email him at mark.djembe.barfoot@gmail.com

Will Drummed Up play at our charity fundraising event for free?

We often give our time for free to support charity events. However, we would need travel expenses to get to your event even if it is in Newcastle. Many of us do not live in Newcastle and have to transport our drums and ourselves from as far away as West Durham, Teesside, Darlington and Hexham. Some of the group are on low incomes and costs of even £5 or £10 to travel to your event can be a big proportion of the amount they have to live on each week. We always car-share as much as possible to reduce travel costs, but for an ensemble group of 8-10 people we would need travel expenses in the region of £30-£40. We are happy to provide fuel receipts and public transport tickets.

When are Drummed Up's African drumming workshops?

Drummed Up African drumming workshops are on a Thursday night and start at 6.30pm. The WEA courses run from 6.30pm to 8.30pm and are taught by Mark Barfoot. After 8.30pm Drummed Up continues until 9.30pm and we often have performance rehearsals. This extra session from 8.30pm onwards is run on a totally voluntary basis so it doesn't always happen but usually it does. If the group continues after the WEA session finishes at 8.30pm then people enrolled on the WEA course don't have to pay any extra, although donations to help pay for the hire of the room are always very welcome.

Do I have to enrol on the Drummed Up African drumming WEA course?

From its start in 2002 Drummed Up was a 'drop in' African drumming workshop taught on a voluntary basis. By 2008 it became clear this couldn't continue. To ensure the future of the group, Mark approached the WEA to ask if we could run Drummed Up as one of their courses. They said yes and we now have three African drumming courses a year starting in September, January and April/May. We need at least 12 people to sign up for each course, or Drummed Up can't continue. If you can't commit to a course you can still drop in for £7 (waged) or £3 (unwaged) per workshop. Between WEA courses, Drummed Up is a drop in workshop from 6.30pm onwards and we ask for a donation for the room hire.

How much is the WEA African drumming course?

The WEA African drumming courses run for 2 hours a week over around 10 weeks and there are three courses per year. For 2015 the course fee is £55 per course. Fee remission is available: for people on certain means-tested benefits the course is free. However, if you are attending the course for free we ask that you consider making a small donation to Drummed Up to help us cover our costs. We think that the WEA African drumming courses are brilliant value - even if you are paying the standard course fee this is still only around the price of a pint of beer per hour for high quality African drumming lessons and a fantastic fun experience! More information is available on the WEA web site.

How does Drummed Up spend its money?

Drummed Up is a not-for-profit community organisation, which means that every penny we earn is invested in the group. Firstly, and most importantly, we need to pay for the hire of the room that we use every Thursday evening. Drummed Up also has a stock of African drumming instruments that regularly need maintenance such as re-skinning, which costs around £70 for a djembé hand drum and £200 for a bass drum. We try to add to our stock of African drums as often as we can, which costs around £150 for a djembé and £600 for a set of three bass drums.

Can I come along to Drummed Up but not do performances?

Yes, that's fine! There is no pressure on you to perform if you don't want to. We would encourage you to give it a go though, as it is great fun. We do lots of rehearsals to prepare you for any African drumming performance if you do decide you would like to have a go. Each African drumming rhythm has somebody leading it and you can follow them if you're worried about not being able to remember the rhythms. If you're really not sure about the rhythm's solo phrases that is no problem as we always need people to play the accompaniment. If you decide that performing really isn't for you then we are always looking for people to photograph or video our African drumming performances.

Can I borrow an African drum from Drummed Up?

We have lots of African drumming instruments - djembés, bass drums, bells and sticks - available to use and unlike some other African drumming groups you can borrow our drums for free during our African drumming workshop sessions. We are sorry, but we do not lend out any of our African drums for you to take home.

Can you show me how to tune my African drum?

Yes we can show you how to tune it using the 'Mali weave' method, or someone might even be able to tune it for you. However, if it is a djembé with an old drum skin then there is a good chance that the drum skin might 'pop' when it's tightened. If you ask us to tune your African drum then please bear in mind that this is AT YOUR OWN RISK and Drummed Up will not take any financial responsibility for re-skinning it.

Can you re-skin my African drum?

Unfortunately we can't, but our friend and teacher Iya Sako is an expert in professional African drum repair and re-skinning. You will need to get your drum to Iya and also collect it from him: when he is in the UK, Iya lives in Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. Alternatively, you could wait until we send some of our African drums to him to re-skin and put yours in with ours. You can borrow one of our djembés or bass drums to play during our workshops in the meantime.

Which is the best African drum to buy?

At Drummed Up we play both djembés and bass drums. If you are starting out with African drumming you will probably want a djembé first. Like anything, it depends on how much you want (or are able) to spend. Avoid fiberglass djembés by manufacturers like Bucara, Meinl, Remo, Stagg and Toca. These are lightweight and weather resistant but don't have much differentiation between tones and slaps, essential for West African drumming. A wooden drum is always best. If you are on a budget we recommend a Kambala Bassam djembé. They are made in Africa, reasonably priced and good quality. If you're not on a budget we recommend a pro-djembé from African Drum Services or a djembé made by Nansady Keita.