ARFC…pre conference workshops

The beginning of this incredible rhythmical journey here in Malaysia commenced with two days of hand drumming with the wonderful Steve Thornton.

Steve is a New York native who now lives in Malaysia and has a list of who he has played with that would turn your head. He is an incredible player and a really warm and genuinely humble human being. We had so much fun over the two days and I got to be in my happy place a whole lot. Some amazing Afro Cuban grooves. Thanks Bro.

Next up was my own two day ERS training which was attended by 20 people. It was a really fun and creative two days and the group began by going very deep with the introductory exercises. This set up a platform for complete freedom of expression through connection and over the two days we played, laughed a lot, cried a little and produced some wonderfully creative rhythmical stories. Every program I do here lifts the bar a bit higher and this group was no exception. Watch out Malaysia…amazing storytellers on the loose!!!!

It was lovely to see returnees and also to make some wonderful new friends here over these days. This really is a warm and welcoming community.

No rest for the wicked right? So over the next two days I dived deep into the world of Music Therapy with a fully immersive introduction led by Preet Kalsi, a native of Borneo who has her practice in Malaysia. Lots of theory and information and some wonderful exercises to complement the program including some very powerful Guided Imagery work. Lots to digest here.


Our final two day workshop before the conference itself was facilitated by Stefano Baroni and was a brilliant exposition of what can be achieved with Body Music. Stefano is a larger than life character and a superb facilitator. He seamlessly platforms the group through a series of exercises which leads to a poly-rhythmic finale that lifts everybody in the room. This was a highlight for me. Two days of challenge and growth. Superb stuff. You can catch up with him at the Circleland Festival in Venice in August of this year.

The workshop series was phenomenal. All SOLD OUT and all totally inspiring. Time for some drum lifting and set down in preparation for the trip to Port Dixon, the venue for the 4th ARFC.

One of the things I love about being here is what happens outside the workshops. Mostly it has to do with food!!! Every break we would head off to find somewhere to eat…not a hard thing to do in Malaysia!! Food is everywhere and comes in a variety of forms. I have to watch what I eat but I still get to sample some fabulous grub. This year I had my first SteamBoat experience. I think the picture tells it’s own story.


Sitting down to eat with friends here is one of my favourite things to do. The connections made in the drum sessions are taken deeper by this simple act of sharing. I have had lots of fabulous conversations and shared much laughter in this setting. It’s kind of a glue that binds everything else.

Next stop Port Dixon. Coming soon.

2 thoughts on “ARFC…pre conference workshops

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  1. Hey Steve you may not remember me but we met in New York early 80’s I was student of Ahmed Jamal percussionist Selden “Fig “ Newton, Ball headed cat.

    Also, I worked with Drummer Larry Bright Ahmed Jamal Trap Set drummer. Guitarist Hiram Bullock bad dudes and many more I’m still active and working drop me a line let’s get caught up love to chat with you know how you’re doing there.

    You were a big influence on me Baba Thornton Great master percussionist.

    Peace Jamal Oginga
    Washington DC


    1. Thanks for your comment. Steve is mentioned in the blog but is not the author. I will forward your message to him if you could let me have an email address or facebook page where he can find you. Regards.
      Paul John Dear
      Blog Author.


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