Marching to the beat of a different drum

Every week in Carrum, the night air resonates to the rhythms of Africa as Renee and Amadou Kalissa put a group of enthusiastic students through their paces at DunDunKan African Drumming.

Renee and Amadou met in Guinea, West Africa, six years ago when Renee was on a drum and dance intensive; Amadou was one of her music teachers.  They married in 2012 and their daughter was born a year later.

“DunDunKan African Drumming was a dream of mine, with the main focus on promotion and education of West African music and culture,” Amadou says.  “It is vitally important to keep the traditions alive for the coming generations, and coming from a musician’s family this is my obligation and my children’s obligation.”

Amadou’s father was a master of the kora (African harp) and travelled the world for more than 20 years with Les Ballets Africains, the Guinean national music ensemble.  Amadou grew up surrounded by percussion and strings and has toured Europe several times with his seven-piece percussion group.

DunDunKan (it’s pronounced “doon doon khan”, which means “the sound of the dun dun”, or bass drum) has been based in Seaford for two years, with beginners’ and intermediate classes held in Carrum on Tuesday nights.  Amadou teaches the djembe (hand drum) with Renee accompanying him on dun duns. 

“Amadou teaches classes in the traditional method, which is from repetition and memory and no sign of sheet music,” says Renee.  “This is how music has been taught for generations in West Africa with the focus on feeling the music and allowing your body to remember the grooves.  Drumming classes are great for busting stress in an informal, fun and physical way.  It’s also a memory builder and a great way to socialise.”

Once or twice a year they hold student drumming nights where students showcase what they learnt that semester to their friends and family.  “We also invite our students to drum with us at various festivals around Victoria.”  They also hold school workshops and perform at weddings, gallery openings, aged care and disability centres “and everything in between”. 

Amadou will be performing at Frankston Library on Sunday, August 21, at 1.30pm.

M: 0424 424 212
E: [email protected]