Language of The Drum

— A melody echoing in two parts filled the air with vibrating rhythms as the students in the West African drumming workshop practiced a simple drumming exercise. The Mount Vernon Unitarian Church is offering the free workshop in the church on the third Sunday afternoon of the month. Workshop leader and West African drummer Susan Berning has been traveling to Ghana and Nigeria for training during the past six years.

Started with a number of West African dance classes, Berning was drawn to the drummers and the drums, and the left-right action of the hands. Initially rebuffed in her attempts to be trained as a drummer — women are traditionally forbidden to be drummers — she was finally rewarded and allowed to be taught. She learned to play the big drums, the royal fontomfroms. For more information on the workshop and/or other activities at the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church visit www.mvuc.org or call 703-765-5950.