Gilded Serpent presents...

Drum Solos:3 Masterful Approaches

3 Drum Solo DVDs

1-2-3 Drum Solo with Bahaia,
Arabic Rhythms and Combinations with Tamra-henna,
Dynamic Drum Solo: Technique & Choreography with Sadie

Reviewed by Sonja Oswalt
posted December 4, 2009

I reviewed 3 drum-solo DVDs taught by well-known and loved instructors. The first DVD, 1-2-3- Drum Solo with Bahaia, covered foundational aspects of the drum-solo and is best suited for beginners wishing to learn the basics of drum solo technique and a cute, short choreography. The second, Arabic Rhythms and Combinations with Tamra-henna, offers in-depth study of common drum-solo rhythms and how to appropriately interpret each rhythm. It is a wonderful addition to any dancer’s library, at any level. The third DVD, Dynamic Drum Solo: Technique and Choreography with Sadie, focuses solely on choreography and is best suited for upper intermediate level to advanced dancers who wish to learn a new choreography or combinations to build into their own repertoires.

Bahaia Drum Solo DVD1-2-3 Drum Solo with Bahaia

1-2-3- Drum Solo with Bahaia is a beginning-level DVD that breaks down movements for a basic drum solo, then combines those movements into a simple (but cute) choreography.

The quality of the DVD is very nice. Each basic movement is broken down then a short practice session follows, using that movement. Movements covered include:

  • Triple Step,
  • Hip Slide,
  • Hip Drop,
  • ¾ Shimmy,
  • Rib Cage Slide,
  • Hip Square,
  • and others.

The video covers many basic movements, which is convenient and helpful for beginning-level students—you get ample instruction for your money! The choreography is dissected into 5 segments, and each segment is comprised of the basic movements that were covered during the technique and practice sections of the video. Bahaia teaches her choreography while facing a mirror, which works nicely since you are able to follow her from behind and are able to see what the choreography looks from the front, as well. Unfortunately, the lighting is a little dim, so she’s shadowed a bit in the mirror. Each choreography breakdown is followed by several rounds of practice.

One thing I appreciate about the simplicity of the choreography is that it illustrates how simple movements can be combined into a very effective, interesting, and impressive drum solo that beginners can learn and perform for friends and family, and then build upon as they gain experience.

Beginners may have some difficulty with the shimmy sections at first. However, at the end of the video, Bahaia rehearses the choreography in its complete form several times so that you can follow along—another nice feature. As a fantastic bonus, there is an extended practice section on the DVD that drills all of the movements Bahaia covered without having to go through the
entire technique breakdown, followed by a short rhythm identification section.

Overall, this is a delightful DVD for beginners who would like a breakdown of basic movements and some ideas for how to combine those movements into a concise drum solo. This DVD packs a lot of content into one disc—a great value for your money. My only real complaint with this DVD is that there is no warm-up or cool-down section, nor is there any discussion of arms or posture. In my opinion, particularly for a beginning DVD, those are features that should always be included or, at least, discussed. Because of that omission, I award this DVD 3 ½ zills instead of 4.
Produced by Cheeky Girl Productions

Zill Raring-3.5
Rating: 3 ½ zills

TammerhennaArabic Rhythms and Combinations

Arabic Rhythms and Combinations with Tamra-henna has quickly become one of the favorite DVDs in my large collection. Unlike the 1-2-3 Drum Solo, this DVD is geared toward intermediate dancers who wish to learn rhythmic patterns and some foundational combinations that can be changed around to further develop improvisational skills. This DVD does not teach choreography! Tamra-henna and Amir Sofi cover 5 common rhythms: Beledi, Maqsoum, Wahda, Malfoof, and Ayub. First, the sounds the doumbek makes are fully addressed, along with a description and explanation of rhythmic diagrams used in Middle Eastern dance notation. Each rhythm is broken down, and then Tamra-henna discusses how to interpret particular aspects of that rhythm through dance.  Then, she breaks down each rhythm and demonstrates 2 combinations for each one. 

This DVD is most easily compared with BDSS Sonia’s “Bellydance-The Art of The Drumsolo.” I own both DVDs, but I can honestly say that I much prefer this one! I appreciate how Tamra-henna goes into detail about the use of each rhythm, the detailed discussion of various interpretations of each rhythm, and the similarities and differences between rhythms. If there is a downside to this DVD, it is how slowly Tamra-henna speaks, and how thoroughly she breaks down each combination. I found myself growing impatient with her carefully enunciated instruction. That said however, I really enjoyed all of the combinations on the DVD, and have actively incorporated many of the combinations and suggestions into my own dance improvisations.

Although the DVD does not include a warmup, Tamra-henna recommends that dancers using the video begin with a 20 minute warm up session. The DVD includes a breakdown of appropriate posture, and arms are briefly mentioned.

If you are looking for choreography, this is not the DVD for you. However, if you’re looking for a masterful rhythm workshop and details on how to interpret those rhythms when you dance, I enthusiastically recommend this DVD.

Produced by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance

Zill Rating-4
Rating: 4 zills

Sadie's Drum DVDDynamic Drum Solo: Technique and Choreography with Sadie

I am a big fan of Sadie and her DVDs, but I was personally a bit disappointed with this one. This DVD is intended for advanced dancers, or intermediate dancers looking for a challenge. The DVD begins with a short yoga-influenced warm-up. The music in the background during the warm-up is a little frenetic and was a bit distracting. Following the warm-up, Sadie jumps directly into the first of 7 combinations. She assumes familiarity with the movements and techniques used, which is probably a reasonable assumption for advanced dancers. After each combination, she goes through each combination with music—quickly. That rapidity is the source of my disappointment with this DVD. I learn quickly, but found myself flailing around a little frantically trying to follow along. If each combination had been practiced to a slow beat several times, next practiced to a faster beat several times, then brought up to speed and drilled to the correct music repeatedly, I would have felt more confident while learning the sequences.

Instead, I became discouraged quickly because I felt rushed.

The DVD ends with a short cool down and a section featuring Sadie performing the drum solo. 

I love watching Sadie’s drum solos, and I thoroughly enjoy her drill and technique on videos that I own also. However, this DVD was not my favorite among the ones she has produced, simply because it was focused on dishing out the choreography so quickly. It felt rushed and left me standing, gaping at my screen, ready to give up after the second combination (even though I consider myself to be an advanced dancer). I would recommend this DVD to advanced dancers if you’re looking for some combinations to sprinkle into a drum solo you’re creating, or if you just love Sadie’s choreographies and plan to dedicate yourself to learning this and performing it somewhere. I do not recommend this for beginners, because I think you may want to throw something at the screen in frustration. In spite of that aspect, the choreography itself is pleasant and impressive, and the video production is high-quality. 
Produced by Hollywood Music

Zil Rating-3
Rating: 3 zills

Overall, if I were an advanced beginner through advanced intermediate student with only enough money for one of these videos, I’d purchase Arabic Rhythms and Combination with Tamra-henna.  I felt it offered the best value for the money, and covered more material that is adaptable in many ways to my own personal dance repertoire. 

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