The Jamani Drummers collaborated with the Japanese artist-in-residence calligrapher Koji Kakinuma during
an on-campus event this spring.
When the stress that accompanies researching
behavioral neuroendocrinology gets to be too much, biology professors
and Jennifer Swann
smack, nod and groove to the beat of the djembe drum.
The Lehigh professors are both members of the Jamani Drummers,
a women's percussion group based in the Lehigh Valley. The group, directed by Maureen ‘Moe’ Jerant, plays powerful
African rhythms that encourage audience members to let go of their inhibitions and dance.
Silagh White, administrative
director of ArtsLehigh
, says the group’s passion for drumming is inspiring.
“They play together because of shared love for drumming,
and the joy they experience by sharing their love with others,” White says. “I’m intrigued by the individuals
in the group.”
Swann became interested in drumming while on a sabbatical in Holland. After returning to the United
States, Swann was disappointed in the lack of drumming instruction in the area—until she met Jerant.
drumming expertise and strong leadership led Swann to encourage her fellow colleague, Schneider, to join.
later, the biology professors say the Jamani Drummers is their major outlet for relieving anxiety and stress.
mind is like some kind of crazy pinball machine,” Schneider says, “and I find that drumming is one of the activities
in my life where I can feel the relief of thinking about one thing at a time.”
Jamani is a Swahili word for friend
and according to Jerant the group’s friendships transcend the everyday boundaries of life.
“All of the
people in the group are professionals,” Jerant says, “They all have lives, they all have families.”
says not many people would guess that two of the group’s members were biology professors at Lehigh, but that doesn’t
matter because work is left at the door.
“I wanted to create a situation where it doesn’t matter. Where
the only thing that mattered was having fun,” Jerant says.
While both professors making a living by using their
brains, Swann says that letting go of the stress of your job is one of the perks of drumming.
“I am paid to
think and it’s nice to have a job or activity where you actually can’t think to do it properly,” Swann says,
“You almost have to get out of your own way. You have to be able to play without thinking about it; you almost have
to stop thinking to play.”
The Jamani Drummers have had the opportunity to work directly with Lehigh through
the Vagina Monologues
and also in collaboration with the Japanese artist-in-residence calligrapher, Koji Kakinuma
in the “Eternal Now” performance.
Schneider hopes to bring more performances to Lehigh in the future and
to use drumming to bridge the gap between the university and the South Side.
For more information on the Jamani Drummers,
show dates, or drum lessons go online
. --Madelyn KingPosted on Tuesday, June 26, 2007