KoSA Holds Inspiring 23rd Edition of Montreal Drum Camp & Workshop

The KoSA International Percussion Workshop and Drum Camp celebrated its 23rd edition in Montreal, QC this past June at KoSA’s year-round music school: the KoSA Academy. KoSA’s Co-Founders and Directors, Aldo Mazza and his musician wife Dr. Jolán Kovács hosted a jam-packed room of eager participants who came from different parts of Canada and the United States to attend this uniquely inspiring and intense event.

KoSA says it prides itself in offering a total percussion immersion (40 hours of drumming in five days) in a variety of world percussion instruments (congas, bongos, djembes, cajon, drumset) and a variety of styles (Cuban, African, jazz, funk, rock). This year’s theme, “Play Better,” was a fitting message about taking control in your life by studying with the top masters and applying what you are learning in achieving the ultimate goal of playing better and improving one’s self. The students this year ranged in age from 11 to 67 and had a diverse level of ability, from just one year of training, to advanced professionals, and yet despite these marked differences, an intense bond and camaraderie was formed.

The week kicked off with an informative clinic on drum set techniques by Montreal jazz musician and McGill and Concordia University professor Jim Doxas who was accompanied by his bass player Adrian Vedady. Yves Cypihot, who teaches at the KoSA Academy’s year-round music school, shared his expertise in African drumming and gave a highly energetic class to all on African djembe techniques. The week continued with the legendary Rumba group from Cuba, Clave Y Guaguancó (the famed group that was formed in Havana, Cuba nearly 50 years ago) and participants were transported straight into Rumba ,the traditional Cuban culture of songs and rhythms . Aldo Mazza’s classes in Cuban techniques promoted his recent book on Cuban Rhythms for Percussion & Drumset: The Essentials. He also wowed his captive audience as he performed on his unique hybrid drum set. This hybrid performance practice mixes African drumming, Cuban drumming, hand percussion of all types, electronic percussion and looping live in performance. On the Thursday, the KoSA camp welcomed Larnell Lewis of the Grammy-winning fusion group Snarky Puppy. Larnell spoke straight from his heart about his beginnings in music and what it takes to make it in the music world. He was very touched to receive from KoSA a Lifetime Achievement Award for “his creative and innovative drumming concepts and techniques.” All participants received a complimentary ticket from KoSA as part of their tuition to see Snarky Puppy and Larnell at the Montreal Jazz Festival that evening and were simply blown away with the mastery of the group! The week continued with Glen Velez who taught Arabic frame drum techniques (this was his 23rd appearance teaching at KoSA) and hypnotized everyone with his interactive vocalization and Central Asian overtone singing. First time KoSA Faculty member Emmanuelle Caplette also shared her talent on Friday morning putting participants through a grueling regiment of drum set techniques stemming from her own background in the drum corp world. The participants then showcased their own passion for drumming in concert on Friday afternoon. Each evening the classes consisted of playing with the KoSA rhythm section and getting coached on how to improve their performances. This permitted participants to form ensembles and play together at the concert in various formations – duos, trios, quartets etc. – and all participants had a chance to perform alongside KoSA’s talented rhythm section: Juan Carmona from Cuba on bass and the immensely talented Montreal artist who also is on faculty at the KoSA Academy, Yoel Diaz.

On the last day, long-time KoSA alumnus faculty member and Berklee College instructor, Sergio Bellotti, spoke to participants about the importance of music education and gave an extremely inspiring clinic on musical application of the rudiments on the drum set. Following this presentation, Sergio was joined in a round-panel discussion alongside Jim West (founder of Justin Time Records), and Aldo Mazza in a vivid discussion of “Success in the Music Business World.” The day and the camp wrapped up with Mark Guiliana (drummer for the late David Bowie) who was invited for the second time as a member of the KoSA Faculty but who was also a KoSA participant for two years in a row when he was merely 16 and 17 years of age. A fun fact and sheer inspiration for the current 16 year old participants to know!

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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