Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The rhythm is gonna get ya . . . healthy



The rhythm is gonna get ya . . . healthy

João Pedro Henriques Rodrigues Soares is running drumming workshops.
João Pedro Henriques Rodrigues Soares is running drumming workshops. Athena Zelandonii

The rhythm is gonna get ya . . . healthy

A paint bucket and a metal tube strung together by twine and slung across his chest, and wooden and metal drumsticks in hand, João Pedro Henriques Rodrigues Soares sings a simple Kassa rhythm.

“Pang, pang, pang, pang, ting, ting, pang pang,” he calls, with a wide toothy grin, before hitting the beats.

“It is a rhythm from the west coast of Africa . . . when the people were digging the plantations, the people were playing the drums at the same time,” he said.

The 34-year-old Portuguese national has lived in Phnom Penh for just over two years, but he picked up Kassa over a decade ago from his brother.

“We had a group together – Bangbalan – he’s a really good drummer; he’s my master,” he said.

Teaching music at an international school is Henrique’s day job, but his passion for Kassa has led him to run a workshop in partnership with the Indochina Starfish Foundation for disadvantaged youths each Sunday morning, and starting next week, he will launch a course open to the public (for a modest price) at Showbox – the Cambodian Heart Beater’s African Drums Workshop.

Playing percussion gives a “boost” to the kids, he says, a feeling he says people of all ages can enjoy with such an easily accessible kit, even if they have no musical background.

“Some schools they want to follow the theory, theory, theory . . . I think if kids are following only the theory they lose interest. First, they need to have the contact with the instruments,” he says, adding, “It happened like this for me, too.”

For his course, which will see part of the fees support his work with the children, participants will also be invited to build a drum from re-purposed parts.

For Henrique, banging the drum also has a therapeutic element. “It helps with motor coordination, auditory memory,” he said. Besides, “It just makes you feel good!”

“If kids are following music, then maybe they’re avoiding drugs and other things, [like] going into the street and begging for money; maybe they can follow it as a dream and build their future,” he continued.

For one student, Henrique says, the rhythms of Kassa have worked wonders.

“I had a student, he had a mental disability . . . I saw the difference, I went to visit him the other day and now he’s playing piano, learning, but he said that he missed the drums.”

Cambodian Heart-Beater’s African Drums Workshop Launch Party takes place at Showbox, #11 Street 330 on August 2 from 7:30pm to 9pm. Course is open to all levels, and will run for eight sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays and costs $20. Reservations required at [email protected] or [email protected].

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The