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Djembe Bongo

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Djembe Bongo

The Visitor, the Oscar-nominated film released in 2008, tells the story of an elderly Economics professor from Connecticut who returns to his New York apartment to find that in his absence a pair of djembe-playing illegal immigrants have moved in.

He had been trying to learn the piano in order to reconcile his grief with the passing of his wife, a concert pianist, but due to age and lack of skill, he had gotten nowhere. However, through his friendship with Tarek, one of the Syrian squatters who have taken up residence in his apartment, and his djembe, a rhythmic West African drum, Walter (Richard Jenkins, nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role) rediscovers passion.

Walter is a lonely man, silent and average. Tarek is full of passion and excitement for life. After an initial uncomfortable situation, Walter opens his home to the couple and becomes immersed in their energy, healing the lonely wound of his wife who had long passed. In a way, Walter is reborn, through his friendships, and his new love for music. The soundtrack was inspired by Fela Kuti, a Nigerian artist, and incorporates an African beat into jazz and funk.

The juxtaposition of instruments between the piano and the djembe demonstrates the biggest draw of the drum. Walter fails time and time again at learning the piano, in an attempt to bring his wife's memory closer to him. However, he easily picks up the djembe, and in no time, is joining drum circles in Central Park with men dressed in traditional African clothing, loosening his tie, and getting involved.

Tarek's pedagogical style of teaching is the opposite of Walter's piano teacher. Rather than tell him that he's not capable, Tarek reminds Walter to tap into his emotions, because "thinking just screws it up." Walter relearns everything he thought he knew about music, like tempo, and finds that he loves to play. This personal discovery sets Walter free.

This is the most important lesson of The Visitor. The Visitor teaches us that djembe music is therapeutic, emotional, and without an accepted style. Djembe music is about passion, not about control. For seniors trying to become more musical, the djembe is the perfect instrument, because it engages your emotions, not your skill.

The Visitor also teaches viewers about the need for cultural expression.

Walter's willingness to learn about and engage in West African culture shows viewers that the djembe is a vehicle of globalization. The same effect could be carried by a cajon or a bongo, instruments that take little skill but lots of emotion to play. Drumming lets you step our of your culture, allowing you to express freely and explore new paths without the stress of being technically correct note for note.

60 "Pro" Djembe Bongo Drum Ebay

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