Mick Gardner’s passion for playing the drums started about five years ago. The San Francisco County Corrections worker was leaving a meeting in Berkeley when he heard some music coming from one of the rooms in the building.
“I went inside the room,” Gardner, 62, says. “I heard people playing drums in all different variations. Everybody was sweating. The conductor gave me one of the instruments and I said to myself, ‘this is where I want to be’”.
Listen to Gardner explain why he finds Brazilian drumming so compelling.
Gardner plays a form of pop-infused Brazilian samba-reggae music called “axé,” which became popular in the 1990s. The music involves the complex rhythmic interplay of different percussion instruments.
Gardner’s instrument is the “surdo”--a large bass drum that’s popular in axé and samba-reggae music. He says drumming helps him leave his busy work day behind after he leaves the office.
Even though he has been playing surdo for several years, Gardner still sees himself as a beginner. “I’m not a musician” he says. “I’m not a dancer and there’s choreography that you have to adhere to.”
Gardner finds it challenging to keep the beat and dance at the same time, “Those two are my major obstacles,” he says. “On a scale of one to ten I’m probably a six, but I’m getting better.”
Intrigued and want to find out more about how to play the Brazilian percussion? Learn three basic techniques from local drum expert Marcos Odara and explore different studios around the Bay Area where you can learn this art form here.