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Jan 2010- Rowan Storm



Multilingual Singer, Traditional Middle Eastern Musician, Teacher, People's Musical Ambassador- Iran

Athens,
Greece

"Open all doors with your non-dominant hand"
~Rowan Storm

The Energy of Passion
By:  Jean Harper

"I would advise women in this way: Steadfast - no matter what happens, being true to ourselves is most important. If your dream is important enough, you will be tested. Is it more important to pursue your dream and encounter countless challenges, or is it more important to just be comfortable?"

 

In 1993, Rowan Storm closed her business in New York City and moved to Greece to live from music.  Performing and teaching combined with her burning desire to  understand the cultural connection between the East and  West were the main driving forces behind her decision to make this move.  Rowan's travels throughout Iran have given her a deep understanding of Persian Classical music and the role of women in ancient, sacred percussion traditions. Her performance venues include: museums and universities throughout the world, New York City’s Lincoln Center, San Francisco's Asian Art Museum, celebrated venues throughout Europe, ancient amphitheaters of Greece and Cyprus, Istanbul’s Reshid Rey Concert Hall, as well as countless carpet concerts throughout the world. 

Rowan Storm was born in Englewood, New Jersey on December 10, 1950 which makes her astrological sign Sagittarius. Sagittarians are said to have a positive outlook on life, adventurous and eager to extend experience beyond the physically familiar. They are also said to enjoy travelling and exploration because their minds are constantly open to new dimensions of thought.  From what I know of Rowan Storm she seems to fit the description above however one must go deeper to understand the mind of Rowan Storm because she is far from ordinary and a seriously Moxy woman.

I can't help but wonder if Rowan Storm just may be a human instrument to teach people worldwide about the human commonalities and peculiarities that cultural exchange brings to light.  In remembering the place where she was born- Englewood, New Jersey- with a current population of just over 26,000, it seems so incredible that she is where she is today. I am reminded of our free will and our ability to choose every aspect of our lives.

Rowan is one of four children- she has two older sisters and one younger brother.  Her sisters are housewives and mothers who also do volunteer work.  Her brother is the director of an organization that supports psychological counseling for challenged and underprivileged children.  He is a model leader, parent, husband, fitness enthusiast and an all-around balanced and reliable person.  Her sisters have lived most of their lives in different areas so Rowan is not as close with them as she is with her brother however when they are all together, on rare occasions, they enjoy their time together.

Rowan is a Mayflower descendant through her biological father's family but she never knew him.  In her own words below she characterizes her parents and her relationship with them:  

"My functional father and beloved stepfather was the director of West Coast Operations for CBS Television in the early 50's, when TV was in its pioneering days. He was truly passionate about broadcasting - he set up a transmitting station in his house when he was a child, so that he could send news to people in other rooms in the house; built stereo sets from scratch, etc. He also started the radio station at Princeton University in the 30's from his dorm room - it is still going strong today. In WWII he was in the military at a low level, and when they discovered his talent and knowledge about broadcasting, suddenly he was made a senior officer with many privileges, which was extremely rare. He built radio stations throughout the world, including Alaska and the South Pacific. Starting in the mail room at CBS in New York, he worked his way up. We moved from New York to Hollywood in 1955 so that he could run the operating system for the new television station.

My mother is a very strong woman - creative, competitive, genuine. I am so happy to say that the most important accomplishment in my life is to have a totally new relationship with both parents. Working through many issues and with lots of help, over many years, I finally arrived at a more horizontal kind of relationship, as peers rather than as child-parent. It is like meeting and becoming friends with fascinating people - and then discovering so many things we have in common".

When I asked Rowan to describe herself as a young girl, this is what she had to say:

"From one side: sad and lonely, struggling to survive emotionally. I have come to learn that I have the typical middle-child syndrome, with six years between my two older sisters and me (they are one year apart) and when I was six years my younger brother was born. (actually half-brother). It was a struggle for me to feel that I belonged in this world, and in my own family. I was always listening to music that no one else in my peer group found interesting - and I did not find much music in my teenage surroundings to be interesting for me.

There were a few bright spots, but most of my childhood was full of emotional pain. We were comfortable materially so that was not an issue, but I could not really find my rightful place in the world. The pervasive mentality of Hollywood culture seemed to present the world as a backdrop or movie set. I was searching for substance and continually being disappointed, when what I thought was real turned out to be only an illusion. Like a kitchen counter top with wood-grain finish - from a distance it seems real but the closer you get, you see the fake job. I was longing passionately for being able to get deeper and deeper into something and never run up against that boundary between the image and the essence. Of course Nature is where the experience of depth gives way to more discovery - the deeper we look, we find only more Truth.

The other aspect of my childhood - and character - made me famous in my family for being rebellious and stubborn. After years of psychotherapy and many other practices, finally I see that we live by compensation. Feeling dis-empowered as a child, I created - unconsciously - a persona to make people think I was really very strong and did not need anyone. Many people still think I am overpowering and intense. The unconscious posturing that we all do throughout our lives is really ludicrous on the one hand, and on the other, it is quite dreadful that we have not learned how to channel our energies better into more productive pursuits!

I always did everything my own way - I would ask for and listen to advice, and then  make up my own mind. When the people around me (usually my parents) saw me doing something different than what they had recommended, they usually got upset.

First school experience was precious - an Episcopal school, where I learned what I consider to be the Most Important Lesson in Life: do to others what you want them to do to you, and do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you. So basic, simple and powerful, this has guided my life and supported me to always try to imagine the other person's experience, from their point of view. Metaphysically speaking, I feel that this is the Essential Law of Being, empowering us to live harmoniously with others on a small planet".

Question:  Rowan, what were some of your interests as a young woman?

"I have always been interested in the promise of personal space. A place of my own . . . I would build forts with card tables and blankets, and delight in my own special nest.  I would find small boxes and other odd objects around the house and build environments on a large table in my room. I would create bridges and levels and imaginary movement through the spaces.

I love to create many things with my own hands - to move from the point of standing inside an idea, through all the steps necessary to bring that idea into the material dimension. I became interested in geometry and the inert power which resides in proportions in Nature.

One of the most powerful experiences of my life occurred as a teenager in Los Angeles, while on my personal search for Something Real. I found myself at a small performance of Persian music. The room became quiet and darkened, and soon I became mesmerized. The room disappeared as I felt that I was entering into some kind of crystalline structure in another dimension. One instrument was a hand drum called "tonbak" which is made of a single piece of a tree and then hollowed out, and is played with all the fingers of both hands. The other is a stringed instrument called "santur", a kind of hammered dulcimer and is an ancestor of the piano.

The interweaving of sounds was so delicate, as if the notes and rhythms were tracing the edges of a snowflake, a leaf, a wave, with the common denominator of Proportion in Nature. Geometric patterns were appearing deep in my internal eyes, carpet patterns weaving through my whole being . . . This music was Real . . . I was deeply touched and wept for weeks after that experience. More than the resolve to learn this music, it was an ecstatic spiritual opening.

Thrown off balance, I could not understand how it was possible for music to have such an effect. I began to study other cultural manifestations from the Middle East, and began to understand how the intervals in the music are related to the geometric patterns throughout Islamic art and architecture. Contact with the proportions throughout Middle Eastern music, textiles, architecture, etc, was bringing a sense of wholeness which sustained my hunger to understand. I began to realize that these manifestations reflect the essence of crystalline structure.

Sometimes we have events which alter the course of our lives, indelibly. This first encounter with Persian music marked the beginning of my lifelong quest which gets me jumping out of bed every day, to see if I can understand another particle of this underlying aesthetic sensibility.

After that concert in the late 1960's, I wanted to hear more Persian music but could not find recordings at that time. I found other kinds of related music from the Middle East and Balkans, and became fully saturated with music from the region including Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Syria. I would sit on the floor cross-legged in front of the speakers of my sound system, listening for hours and hours.

I began to dream of travel to the source of this extraordinary music, to breathe the air, feel the energy of a place in time where these proportions are a normal part of everyone's frame of reference.

Many coincidences began to occur in a series after that major breakthrough, leading the way into Middle Eastern music and the philosophies which are its blueprints".

Question:  What special training or education do you have?  

"Bumbling through to a high school degree (where I finally graduated with honors), I went to university in Boulder, Colorado. I studied fine arts with a major in life drawing and after 7 years of misguided mishaps, finally received a BFA, also graduating with honors. I also loved going to physics courses for liberal arts people, mostly conceptual with very little math. These two pursuits were the most interesting for me - until music as an actual practice came my way. During my college years I met some people - finally! - who shared my same interests in music, and we began to play together once a week, just for the joy of it. It never occurred to me that we could play for an audience. Between us, we had recordings from South America, the Balkans and various Middle Eastern countries. I lived for this weekly musical journey, and in between those evenings, whenever possible,  I was sitting on the floor in my room, ears glued to the speakers. Those recordings were my first teachers for music.

One most extraordinary experience during this period was a waking dream which came over me while studying at my desk. I was on a large outdoor stage, performing with several other musicians. The huge audience before us was made up of every kind of person: young and old, rich and poor, every skin color, every facet of humanity seemed to be represented in the crowd. I was deeply frightened with this vision, since it implied an intense responsibility: since all these people had come to hear us, what could I have to offer? I tried to make the vision go away, but it persisted until finally it became a regular companion of my imagination. Many years after that, this vision began to come to fruition. I decided not to go to architecture school, since I could not agree with the philosophy of modern architectural practices".

Question:  What was your very first job?  And your last job before your current work with frame drumming and Persian music?

"Babysitting, and many other odd jobs, normal for young girls . . . I have worked as a waitress, which I enjoyed very much. I worked in a medical office with two jobs, one in the office where the doctor saw patients, the other in his editorial office for a journal where he was the editor.  Aside from music, the most interesting work for me has always been the creation of personal space. The story of Swiss Family Robinson always intrigued me - the notion of landing on a desert island, and needing to create everything for a good life style with one's own hands. I had a dream to create my own dwelling space and everything in it, with my own hands.

When I moved back to New York City after completing my BFA, I wanted to continue with art and music, and moved into a large building in the neighborhood which is now called Tribeca. It was a mostly empty building, since the tax structure of New York pushed businesses out of the area, leaving lots of space free for artists to camp out and create hand-made living systems in the large open spaces which had been vacated. I was paying very low rent for two office rooms whose common wall had been knocked down by the previous tenant, who never got around to patching up the rough edges of exposed bricks and steel. There were ghastly fluorescent hanging lights, brown linoleum on the two sides of the floor with a gaping hole where the wall had been, and no bathroom and no water. I used the public toilet across the hall, and bathed on the top floor where some crazy artist friends had put in a plastic shower, which was coated with layers and layers of different colors of paint. The dream of creating my own living space - and everything in it - came to engage my every move.  My various jobs in New York funded the immense challenge of transforming the space.

Most of the building was empty - 10 stories of 10,000 square feet per floor. Going across the hall to use the public toilet was comical - and not unusual in lower New York City in those days of the late 70's. My neighbors across the hall and I were the only occupants of that floor - and they were turning out some kind of radical political magazine and completely avoided contact with me, until some touching moments brought out our humanity for one another. That is another long story! I began to work on the space, while also pursuing music.

While speaking on the phone with a musician I had met, he asked me about the music he could hear in the background. It turned out it was his own album, and I had been listening to it virtually every day for more than four years. Souren Baronian invited me to play in his band called Taksim, a mixture of jazz and Middle Eastern music, and also to perform traditional Armenian and Turkish music, and also Greek, Arabic and some Persian, although my study of Persian music came years later. With Souren's encouragement, I began to believe in myself and my musicianship. Souren trained me to understand music in a deep way, while at the same time developing practical skills for being a musician in the world community.

My first job in Middle Eastern music was in 1977, in a Turkish nightclub in Greenwich Village, called the Haci Baba. (The pronunciation is 'Ha-ji', with the 'a' sounds in each word long, as in 'far'.) I was playing a hand drum known as dumbek and singing, working together with Souren Baronian and another Armenian musician, Haig Manoukian. The name is ironic, since the term 'Haci Baba' is a title of respect for a Muslim man after he has made the pilgrimage to Mecca. The nightclub was serving alcohol, forbidden in Islam.  Along with a community of versatile musicians, Souren and Haig and I worked together steadily from 1977 until I moved to Greece in 1993.

Throughout these years in the New York area, playing music within many different Middle Eastern communities, my hunger to experience these countries firsthand continued to grow. Since my first encounter with Persian music in the late 1960's, Iran represented another galaxy, so exotic and mysterious. Deep inside I felt that my direction was leading to Iran, and life presented me with the perfect opportunity to prepare myself for attaining balance in what seemed to be such a radically foreign environment. An extraordinary series of events led me to pull up stakes in New York, close my business, and jump off the cliff of the known world, into the unknown dimension of life in the eastern Mediterranean.

During this same period in New York I also became obsessed with transforming my two office rooms into my dream personal space. I would get up at 8am, work all day on stripping paint off the oak window sills, building the space, constructing furniture, doing all the plumbing, electric work, transforming all the surfaces- it was an extraordinary amount of work. I would go to the gig at 9, play music until about 3am and return for a few hours' sleep before the whole work cycle would start up again. After four years of channeling all of my time into building and music, finally the few of us who lived there were forced to leave the building when it was bought for development. I struggled to complete every last detail before leaving, like creating a sandcastle on the beach, knowing that as soon as I completed everything it would be torn apart. I hired a photographer just to document what I had done. It happened that my project was featured in the Design Section of the Sunday Magazine of the New York Times. At that time in 1980, it was the most prestigious place in the world for anyone to be published as an architect or designer. The editor focused on that fact that a woman alone had designed and built such a beautiful space. This was the beginning of my business as designer-builder.

I decided not to go to Architecture school, since I could not agree with the philosophy of most modern design and build practices.

I had produced a concert in New York in 1990, with the intention of sharing with American audiences some of the richness of Middle Eastern music and culture, since even in that period, most of the information in the media about that region was volatile and negative. The concert attracted a large crowd, and the venue asked me to present more programs. I began to think of all the elements in western culture which were imported from the east, and wanted to find those connections. I realized that I had to move myself  to that region in order to understand deeply. I began reading history of the movement of culture from the east into western culture, humanity's path crossing the Mediterranean and into Europe. I dreamed of going to Turkey, Greece and Spain since they are the three countries which seemed to have been the most important points involved in the transfer of cultural influences, for different reasons and in different time periods. With an extraordinary 'coincidental' nod of approval from Nature, the phone began ringing and within six months I was invited to all three countries as a professional musician. How remarkable, that I was actually paid to travel to these places and to experience 'from the inside' these cultural processes. Within a year I closed my business and a big life chapter in New York, and landed in Greece, the center of the world, located at the crossroads of the concepts 'east', 'west', 'north', 'south'. 'Mediterranean' means 'center of the earth'.

I wanted to live from music, and to trace the movement of influences from 'East' to 'West'. My first recognition of a widespread cultural source is known as 'Spanish architecture'. Suddenly one day I realized that this genre of building, characterized by arches, tiles, fountains, developed on Spanish soil during the Islamic period of Spain, from 711 until 1492. 

When I arrived in Athens in 1993, immediately I was performing with the highest-level musicians in Greece, and had many students who wanted to learn from my drumming and singing expertise in different kinds of Middle Eastern music. Instantly I became fully engaged with the many-dimensional process of performing and teaching, and also learning constantly. I needed to learn not only Greek language, but the nature of Greek culture. Struggling to anchor myself in the center of my being in such a surprisingly unfamiliar environment, my resolve to achieve balance finally outweighed the difficulties, and finally I began to feel integrated into the world of Greece, in music and on every other level.

Many of the most important Life-Lessons came to me from Greece. I learned that my expectations about how the world should function were limiting my ability to experience the Here and Now. I learned that the ancient Greek philosophers studied music as a science, and gave to the world the ability to fathom the proportions inherent in Nature. Greek music theory forms the foundation of not only Western music, but also Middle Eastern music. In Spain during the Islamic period, the works of ancient Greek philosophers were translated into Arabic and Spanish, filtering into Europe and also returning to the East with the Jews and Muslims during the Catholic reforms in Spain of the late 15th century. Greek philosophy lies at the heart of classical Arabic and Persian poetry.

While I was fully engaged as a professional musician in Greece, my attraction to Persian music and to Persian culture became stronger and stronger, leading me into the next level of preparation for actually traveling to Iran". (Please see below for a discussion about this)

Question- How did you get involved in drumming?

"My first conscious opening into Middle Eastern music and spirituality occurred during the Persian concert I mentioned above. I had at least two other early hints of interest for Middle Eastern and Balkan drumming - one during a visit to some Arab friends' house while in university. There was a drum in the corner and I naturally picked it up and started playing it. The other was during an event for Balkan music, and I could not understand the rhythm. When I finally "got it", my perception of the world was altered".

What is next for you, Rowan?  What do you want to do or accomplish before you leave this life?

Photo right- Rowan with  Nima Janmohammadi, Istanbul, Nov. 2009, with whom she recorded the song on her website, "Nani Jan".

"After being a professional musician for more than 30 years, and an eternal student, I am finally bringing my experience to fruition, according  to my own schedule. After many years since my last recording, I recently recorded a beautiful Armenian song in Istanbul with my dear musician friend N. (please hear it on my website, RowanStorm.com)

I continue to present programs which are designed to challenge the general misunderstandings which are so prevalent between eastern and western culture. I feel that my mission is to bring an experience of wholeness and healing to people, in the following basic ways: to educate and inform about cultural elements of different regions, to inspire people through music, drumming, singing and design, and to guide people into this practice of synchronization with oneself, with others, and with the outer world. By dropping into deeper and deeper levels of awareness through drumming, we approach the universal Pulse of Life and source of Healing. I believe that through finding and celebrating the common denominators among us all, transcending differences in religious beliefs, language orientation, race, gender, etc, we may learn to hold compassion in our hearts, and to move forward in evolution.

I would like to give to other people the same sensation which I discovered first in Persian music. While ordinary reality is full of disappointments, I wish to reassure, guide and welcome people to another realm of Substance. I believe that being a musician can be the highest Calling, to serve people in the journey between everyday reality and another, deeper realm of Spirit".

Below is a video of Rowan's Performance on February 13, in San Rafael, California at the Concert of Turkish Classical Music:

What advice do you have for other women who want to go for their dreams?

Below is a Youtube video where Rowan is asked about this in regard to Middle Eastern music:

"There are many dreams, but people forget that it is hard work to bring a dream into reality. It can be really uncomfortable to be focused on something which is Very Important, no matter what it is. The question is, 'how badly do you really want this'? I think most people do not really have a passion about their dream - the idea of a dream is just something that sounds nice, like trying on a new pair of shoes. We want our lives delivered neatly. It is not easy to pursue a dream! We must sacrifice many things in order to focus on a chosen goal, and we must be willing to go through hardships in service of the dream. Most people give up when the going gets a little rough.

I think there are metaphysical jokes which come along and just when we think we are getting somewhere, Boom -  something happens which throws us off course. It is really messy to go after a dream - requiring sleeplessness,  sacrifices,  hard work - physical, mental and every other way.

The rewards which come are sweet and profound. I recall a poem of Rumi which says, there are three kinds of companions in this world. The first companions, our material objects and surroundings, bring us physical comfort and inform our lives. When we go to the grave, however, they do not move or cry. The second kind of companion is represented by the people in our lives - friends and family who make a big difference in our lives' paths. When we pass on, they might come to our burial place and weep . . . but move no further. The third kind of companion is our personal work - whatever challenges us to dig deep within ourselves, to tap into hidden resources in order to actualize our potential. This companion moves with us throughout eternity. To take the raw talents with which we are gifted at birth, and to transform them into something tangible - this is what promotes evolution of our soul".

I would advise women in this way:

"Steadfast - no matter what happens, being true to ourselves is the most important. No matter what the obstacles, if your dream is important enough, you will be tested. Is it more important to pursue the dream and encounter countless challenges, or is it more important to be comfortable?

The basic elements of advice which I would like to offer for going after your life-dream:

  1. Have a very clear image in mind of the desired goal. Live in the desired goal in your imagination, as much as possible.
  2. How uncomfortable are you willing to be, in order to achieve your goal?
  3. How hard are you willing to work?
  4. What are you willing to sacrifice, in order to achieve your goal?
  5. Are you willing to actually fulfill your desired goal?"

Question-  Who is Rowan Storm- the woman? 

"In my family,  always a child. I am so happy that my relationship with my family is better than it ever has been".

 Question- How would you describe yourself?

"Obsessive, intense  - hard-working, alone, focused, strong, vulnerable, self-sufficient".

and how would others describe you?

"Obsessive, intense, creative, good energy, good musician and writer, good designer and builder. Fair, straight-talking, crazy!"

Question- Who are your mentors and why?

"I Already mentioned my first mentor, Souren Baronian. My other primary music mentor is the great master of Classical Persian Music, Mohammad Reza Lotfi. When I moved to Greece in 1993, I immediately was on the concert stage and had many students. My experience in New York was unique since I had entrée into many different communities, performing their own music. The only outsider and certainly the only woman on the stage, I learned much about the distinctions between music - and culture - of the Arab world, Armenia, Turkey, Greece, the Balkans, Flamenco, Central Asia, Iran, etc.

While many people were enthusiastic to learn from me, I felt that although my experience was broad throughout all these genres of music, I wanted to go deeply into the roots. The experience of Persian music had changed my life many years earlier, but I felt deeply hungry to finally re-enter that world as a professional musician. In the year 2000 I had the great fortune to meet one of the greatest Masters of Persian music, MR Lotfi, who invited me to perform concert tours with him in Europe. My life changed completely, going to Zurich where he was living at the time, to perform and study intensively with this great master.

While the techniques for the frame drums are fascinating to learn, this is not enough to comprehend the music. The outer form of any art form is based on certain principles, but I discovered a profound difference between eastern and western culture. In the west, the primary artistic expression is stemming from personal ideas. In eastern culture, the artist is first a steward of the tradition, and personal expression arises within the strict confines of rules, and also from a deep, guiding spirituality.

Along with this singular training in Persian music under the direction of Master Lotfi, my dream of traveling to Iran was continually deepening, until I finally was able to travel there in 2006. I was extremely fortunate to have this opportunity which lasted for almost three months. I became friends with a family in Tehran who supported and assisted me in every conceivable way, so that my experience there was anchored within a family who had adopted me as one of their own. Now four years later, we speak on the phone usually once every week. One of the members of the family is a great musician, with whom I recorded a song which is now on my website, http://www.rowanstorm.com. Often traveling alone, my skills with Persian language increased as I sat next to people (women only) on buses, planes etc, and struck up conversations. I was invited to stay with people everywhere I went. I have never experienced a purer degree of hospitality than in eastern countries.

One of the most valuable and rare of my experiences was in the company of women dervishes in the Kurdish areas of Iran. There are ritual practices which involve the use of the large frame drum known as 'daf', and I had been longing to fathom the mysteries of this instrument for many years. (This is the drum I am holding in the photo on my website's home page.) Against everyone's advice, I traveled to Kurdistan alone and met with the women there, and played daf together with them in their ceremonies. I learned that there are many centers for exclusively women's spirituality throughout Kurdistan Iran. In some cities there, any night of the week a woman has the opportunity to participate in this ritual, where the use of the frame drum known as 'daf' brings about a trance state, opening into another dimension.

As much as Persian music had changed my life in the 1960's, actually being on the ground there, engaged with communication both through the spoken language and also through music, I felt as if the colors of my being were being filled in, between the black contour lines of my life until then. My training in Greece, attaining balance in such a familiar and at the same time unfamiliar environment, served me well. From the first moment I arrived in Tehran, I felt balanced, relaxed, and as if I had returned home after many, many years. For more information about my travels in Iran, please see my weblog:

http://www.iran-rowanstorm.blogspot.com

I also would like to point out that the tradition of playing Frame Drums in the Middle East is at least 5,000 years old, and the archaeological evidence shows that women were the primary players of this instrument from ancient times. Women appear in ancient representations as spiritual leaders, using the Frame Drum in the context of ritual practices. From the realm of the sacred to the profane, I believe that the women's drumming tradition is uninterrupted until the present day. However, it is important to understand that women are not often celebrated in public as singers or performers of any instrument due to the underlying ethos and position of women in traditional Middle Eastern societies. While they do not often appear in public, there are many fine drummers, singers and dancers whose talent remains enclosed with their native environment of exclusive women's gatherings. Women have always been very much engaged with musical and drumming practices, within their own confines, away from male witnesses.

My signature frame drum, the Rowan Storm Dayereh is a type of drum which has been associated particularly with women since time immemorial, and is possibly an extension of the grain sieve, a tool which has accompanied women's work for thousands of years. Found mostly throughout the large region encompassed by Iran and Central Asia, this type of drum has small rings attached around the interior of the frame. While the drum's membrane is played with the fingers of both hands, the rings produce another dimension of sound, similar to the sound of using a grain sieve to sift out small stones, etc.

My path in drumming is informed with many influences, including different regional attitudes regarding music and dance etc, and also its use in healing. I believe that deep within Middle Eastern music lies an orientation towards the sacred which has been there since the dawn of civilization.

Through recognizing this orientation as an archetype, we begin to understand that all the artistic cultural manifestations from any given region in the Middle East and Mediterranean are interrelated, constituting a magnificent pattern of wholeness. By treating each of the manifestations as a part of this whole, I believe that we are led back into a state of balance, and the experience of this wholeness. In contrast, taking any one of these manifestations out of this context of wholeness strips away its identity in relation to its natural surroundings. The resulting art form is shallow, disconnected from its generative principles.

One of the essential elements of my frame drum teaching method is the recognition of our binary physiological organization. While in university, I struggled for several weeks and finally was able to breathe equally on both sides while swimming a mile. After mastering this and swimming with one breath for 3, 5 or 7 strokes, as I emerged from the pool, I felt for the first time that I was standing on both feet equally, totally grounded and balanced.

Many years later, after many lessons with various percussion teachers, I began to incorporate this binary awareness into my frame drum playing, and designed an instrument* to accommodate a symmetrical orientation. After more than ten years of working with developing my non-dominant hand, I feel that I have just entered this realm of playing from a balanced perspective, and I wish I had known about this when I first started my career so many years ago. I am pleased to offer my drum and teaching method for my students, and soon my teaching materials will be available on the market".

*the Rowan Storm Dayereh, produced and featured in the Artist Innovation Series by Cooperman Drum Company.
Cooperman.com/Coopermanaiseries

 

In the Video Below- Rowan Storm teaches about the Daf, Tar, and other frame drums for the Gilded Serpent

“Every human has four endowments- self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change.”  ~Stephen R. Covey

I would like to thank as well as congratulate Rowan for her example to live life large and with Moxy!

You can visit Rowan's website for more about her teaching and performance schedule:  www.RowanStorm.com

Follow this link to view this clip from a very nice performance organized by The Farhang Foundation and Los Angeles County Museum of Art on January 28, 2010.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hH0tm4e0IY 

 



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