Circling the beat


DVC drummer James Adamo plays a beat (Photo by Courtney Johnson/2010 The Inquirer )

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, James Adamo can be heard playing his hand drum in the main Quad, an instrument he picked up after being introduced to it at a belly dancing event two years ago.

It was there Adamo’s interest was sparked, and he’s collected hand drums ever since.
Although he often plays by himself, other musicians join in on occasion. At one session Adamo brought four hand drums and was joined by a sitar player, a freestyle rapper and other DVC students.

Adamo’s goal is to create an open forum that breaks down social barriers and allows anyone to play his or her instruments. 

For him, playing started as a way to meet new people, as it “tends to attract hippies smacking on a drum in the quad,” said Adamo, who is not a DVC student.

He enjoys encouraging people’s creativity and loves the fun atmosphere the hand drums create.

Adamo often plays the djembe, a large African hand drum. Correct hand placement and proper timbre between bass and slap notes are key when playing such an instrument.

His style is often improvisational, with Adamo starting the circle with a simple beat and others building on top of it.

“[Everyone playing] all works together to create one giant really good piece,” said Steven Anguiano, a friend of Adamo and occasional contributor to the circle.

Anguiano said playing the hand drum makes him feel he has at least some musical talent.

“I tried to play drums [set], just didn’t work,” Anguiano said.

The weekly drum circle hasn’t existed without criticism.

Anguiano said one passerby told them “Hey, why don’t you play instruments with some real notes!”

Student Andrew Armstrong, who has played drums for close to 10 years, said he finds the drum circle’s beats inconsistent and the participants uneducated about drums.

“I want to have a conversation, and they play way too loud,” he said. “Hand drums are like the harmonica; it’s barely an instrument.”

Student Becky Phillips was less critical, saying, “They don’t bother me; just sometimes they get really loud.”


Contact Brian DeAngelis at [email protected]