CT - Ryan Green rapped out a tune on a rawhide-covered drum Friday
morning, and quietly mused about what life was like in centuries
when such instruments played a significant role in culture and entertainment.
"We listen to CDs and go to the movies,
and everything is machine-made. They made drums and played them,"
Green said. "People are still interested in their culture."
The civilization Green was speaking of
is that of Native Americans, specifically that of the Tewa tribe
of the southwestern U.S. With the help of Bea Duran, of the Tewa
tribe, Green and other students from the city's Alternative Education
School on Friday got a hands-on lesson in drum-making.
Duran, a resident of Tesuque, N.M., traveled
to Connecticut this week to be part of a weeklong break from regular
studies sponsored by the school and backed by a state grant, said
school Director Bruce Blake. The drum making at Eisenhower Park
was one of many out-of-school activities students could choose from,
"Kids love hands-on (work), it gets
them going," Blake said. "We want to engage students in
learning and we are trying to make this fun."
Duran, 52, said she learned Tewa drum
making because it was a dying art among her people, as was weaving
and other traditions she also teaches.
"These are the works my people did
500 years ago and even before that," Duran said. "I decided
I was going to bring it back."
Duran, who works full time at a printing
company in addition to her teaching duties, said she enjoys sharing
her craft with people of other races, because she believes that
people, and objects such as the drum, are part of a world that is
To student Sarah Falzarano, 16, Eisenhower
Park provided an ideal setting Friday for the lesson in hollowing
pine logs with chisels, and sanding each creation until its surface
"We are working with natural stuff
while in the wilderness, instead of being in a classroom,"
she said, pointing to the woods that abut the entrance to the park.
Junior Ryan Robstock, 17, said he enjoyed
the chance to learn a new skill, one that he had not ever expected
to part of.
"It's easy, once you know what you
are doing," Robstock said, as he pounded a chisel with a large
Baba Coleman of New Haven was at the event
Friday in part to demonstrate to students the art of African drumming.
Coleman brought along a drum he made in West African style, as well
as a three-drum set he crafted for his daughter, Maya.
Coleman, however, clearly also enjoyed
putting down his drumsticks and picking up a chisel to try his hand,
side-by-side with Duran, at something different.
"It's a new style of drum-making,"
he said, with a smile. "I'm learning Native American skills."