Drum Class Learns Beat Heard Around the World

Published: Dec 7, 2009
 Not even five minutes into the class and adjunct music professor Nathaniel Strawbridge is already feeling the beat. He’s leading the class through a rehearsal for their final performance on Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. in the Vaughn Center lobby.

“You tired? You hurting? We’re not messing around,” he shouts to the World Drumming Ensemble class. “Count louder!”

He uses his whole body to teach the class – dancing, pacing, drumming as an echo, drumming as the leader, drumming on the floor. He even sings the drum beats like a foreign language.

As the rumbling of the drums rattles the lockers in the back of the room, it is clear the energy of the drum beat is awakening something inside this music instructor.

“This is my passion,” he said. “I love world drumming.”

Strawbridge, who spends his days as a music teacher at Crestwood Elementary School in Tampa, has been teaching the World Drumming Ensemble in the evenings for about three years and has seen it grow in popularity.

Diana Wise ’10 said she took the class because she thought it could help with her rhythm. As a music major in voice, Wise needed the ensemble class as a course requirement but has been having a great time with it.

“He makes it a wonderful class,” she said. “Even those of us who aren’t talented, he makes you feel so.”

Strawbridge is a professional trumpet player but has always been attracted to the drum.

“Growing up I’d be tapping tables all the time,” he said. “When I graduated I started to study music from different cultures. The more I learned, the more I learned I don’t know.”

While the class meets on Mondays this semester, it’ll switch to Tuesdays next semester. The final performance for this semester on Dec. 7 will include an Afro-Cuban rumba, a West African Gahu, a Chinese folk piece and a Dominican merengue.

“Students come away learning about different cultures and gaining rhythm proficiency,” Strawbridge said. “A lot of people don’t think they have rhythm, but it’s there. What I do in the class is drain it out. If you have a heartbeat, you can drum.”


Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
Sign up for UT Web Alerts