What to expect from a course with Nathaniel Combs

  • Tutelage by a professional percussionist: Nat (pictured) has been playing the djembe drum for almost 15 years and has more than 10 years teaching experience. He is a dedicated student and teacher of West-African music and culture and lived in Mali as part of his learning and cultural immersion. Every year, he hosts djembefolas (master players) from West-Africa and together they conduct exciting workshops up and down the east coast. When Nat isn’t performing as Rhythm Culture, he is the percussionist for The Hayden Hack Infusion.
  • You’ll learn West-African rhythms: Every five weeks, Nathaniel chooses a traditional rhythm with roots from Guinea in West-Africa. From ceremonial to celebration rhythms, every song and beat has a special story.
  • You’ll get to play for the African Co-op dancers: Every night after drumming class, drummers are invited to stay on and play for the African Co-op dancers. This group was started by Nat’s partner Bec Mount. It’s got a great community vibe! The dancers are accompanied by the drummers as they practice their traditional dances. Many do it for fitness and fun while others enjoy that they can perform at local events and festivals.
  • You’ll play with authentic African ensemble: The dundun is a traditional ‘drum set’ of three drums and it stands centre of the drumming circle. Its native to Ghana, Guinea or the Ivory Coast. The set is made up of the kenkeni, sangban and dundun, each with its own distinctive sound. Often a student who signs up for a djembe class ends up playing the dun dun as well!
  • You’ll learn djembe jargon: Playing the djembe is a challenge and like any instrument, you have to concentrate and listen to the teacher’s commands. You’ll learn about things like ‘walking with your hands’, ‘ghosting’, ‘breaks’ and ‘calls’.
  • You’ll meet great people: Drumming students come from all walks of life… designers, nurses, grandparents, tradies, travellers and retirees. They all have one thing in common: to have a laugh and learn something new.
  • You’ll get to perform in public: Rhythm Culture often is invited to perform at community events, festivals and markets and students are given the opportunity to put their skills to the test. Anyone who has taken part in a student performance will tell you it’s great fun to see the community get involved as they dance to the drums. Playing together is the wonderful result of months of practice and learning at class.
  • You’ll probably buy a drum: It won’t take long for you to miss playing the drum all the time… While you can hire a drum for class, most of the advanced drummers have purchased their own drums from Nathaniel. He is a professional drum maker as well and has a range of djembes for sale. He also holds drum-making workshops. Buying a drum is a lifetime investment so make sure you buy one that fits you in size and sound!
  • You’ll notice new skills: Drumming has a way of improving your co-ordination, listening skills and focus. You have no choice but to employ both your hands, one after the other, while listening to the rhythms, beats and calls from Nathaniel. Talk about multi-tasking! Your upper body, arms and shoulders will get stronger and your core strength will improve.
  • You’ll find out why drummers are happy people: One of our students Neale McKinnon calls it ‘serious fun’. The drummers might look serious while they’re playing but that is only because it takes a lot of concentration to play every rhythm perfectly. Physically and emotionally, drumming works all our senses … You only have to look at the drummers after playing a set to see the result of all those happy hormones being released. It’s magic!


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