The One Beat at a Time drumming circle led an informative discussion on West African drumming music at Aiken's Unitarian Universalist Church Saturday.
The group's lively demonstration not only taught participants how to play the West African drumming music but also gave them a better understanding on the culture and symbolism surrounding their songs.
Over 30 people learned how to play with traditional African drums, also known as Djembe, and how to harmonize with one another with virtually lyric-less songs.
The rhythms the band demonstrated are from West New Guinea and were passed down from the "masters of Mandinka." Some songs have introductions that tell stories or symbolize traditional life events.
Drumming, said drumming instructor Julie Evonna, is not something one can really do in a solo setting, but as group.
"Drumming is a connection of us all," said Evonna. "To create the music, everyone has to be playing harmoniously. They have to be in sync."
Traditional drumming itself is a "testosterone-driven" activity primarily played by men due to the amount of stamina playing takes, especially when some songs can last up to two hours long.
However, drums are also a great instrument to play for those who have hand or limb issues, said Evonna, who herself has a hand disfigurement.
"I myself play because I love it," Evonna said. "I have wrist issues, but I'm still successful."
One participant, Pam Hemming, signed up for lessons after the session.
"It was really fun," Hemming said. "It's a really friendly group and it's something different to do."
The group holds bi-monthly drumming circles for the experienced and inexperienced. They are currently offering three lessons for $25. The money goes towards the Aiken Unitarian Universalist Church where the lessons are held.
The event is one of the "musical gigs" for Aiken's Interfaith Harmony Month, a month-long series of events meant to create an understanding and appreciation of different cultures and religions.