On Tuesday this week, 25 of our younger percussionists from Junior to Fourth Year took part in a samba drumming workshop with Gabriel Lopes and John Paul.  

Gabriel is a respected percussionist, composer, and samba baterias researcher from Rio de Janeiro. He has been playing with Rio’s renowned Carnival Bloco, Monobloco, for 22 years and has been a tutor for their percussion classes in Rio for the last 10. 

Samba drumming is the electrifying heartbeat of Brazilian music, pulsating with energy and rhythm. Rooted in Afro-Brazilian culture, it blends intricate patterns of percussion instruments like the surdo, tamborim, and cuíca to create a vibrant tapestry of sound. Whether echoing through the streets during Carnival or igniting dance floors worldwide, samba drumming captivates listeners with its infectious groove and dynamic polyrhythms, embodying the spirit of celebration and unity. 

Gabriel and John Paul taught students the correct techniques to use on each of the principal samba instruments. For example, they learnt that each stroke of the rhythms played on the lead repique drum must be played in a particular part of the drumhead to produce the correct sound and that certain notes of the rhythms are produced by striking the drum with the hand. 

It was, however, a little embarrassing to discover that they had previously been playing the samba snare drum (Caixa) upside down! It is not played the same way up as a western snare drum i.e. with the snares underneath the drum but in fact, with the snares on the top!  

The students absolutely loved participating in such a unique workshop, and we hope they’re inspired to continue experimenting with a range of percussion instruments and sounds as they develop as musicians with the Music Department at Trinity School in Croydon. 

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