Hand-drumming class plunging into the new year with vigor

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    By Paul Roberts
    Special to The PREVIEW
    Join musician and music therapist Paul Roberts for a free hand drumming class at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, at noon.
    The class offers a welcoming environment that encourages fun, creativity, playfulness and connecting with others. Hand drums are provided for those who don’t have one. Even participants who have no experience playing a musical instrument can immediately get into the groove. Besides hand drumming, the class includes body percussion and songs of indigenous peoples.
    Closing the year with 11 well-attended and enthusiastic sessions, the Pagosa drumming class plunges into the new year with vigor. Ranging in experience from complete novices to advanced players, participants are joining together in a joyful sense of community.
    “I decided to join the hand drumming group, inspired by personal contact with Paul and by reading his articles in The SUN,” said Jeff Heintzleman. “I enjoy how such a diverse group of people synchronizes together, feeling as if I am helping at times, being helped at other times, being part of a shared experience, with a feeling of harmony. That’s what brought me back to the group the second and third time, and will continue to draw me into the group in the future.”
    Heintzleman began playing drum in the sixth grade, when he and several of his classmates were taught basic rhythmic patterns using drum sticks on practice pads. The next year, he joined the middle school band program, in which he played snare drum.
    “It was a great experience to work with other musicians who had varying levels of competency,” he said. “For me, being part of an ensemble was a major life lesson about learning patience and working together with others. I enjoyed the inclusive feeling and the sense of harmony among the musicians through the music we were creating together.”
    During his high school years, Heintzleman’s drumming took a quantum leap when he became the protégé of Chris Stovall, a professional percussionist.
    “Chris inspired my personal growth through his abilities as a teacher and a player,” said Heintzleman. “Through this opportunity, my learning curve quickly took a big swing upwards. As my abilities improved, my mentor opened doors for me to perform, professionally.”
    Continuing to participate in school concert and marching bands, Heintzleman began performing with other groups.
    “My first professional music job was accompanying students for a guitar recital when I was 15,” he said.
    Throughout his high school years, Heintzleman played professionally in a wide variety of musical performances, including with the Omaha Symphony, jazz ensembles and rock bands. He also had the job of judging percussion students at local and regional music competitions, playing for the operetta HMS Pinafore, in jazz bands (in which the other members were school band directors), and with professional musicians performing jazz and big band music in Omaha’s “Summer Music in the Park Series,” and with polka bands and with various rock bands.
    Later, Heintzleman studied electronics and began a career in audio engineering while continuing to performing with The Acorns, a rock band based in the Midwest. Moving to Pagosa Springs in 2000, he has performed with many musicians and is a member of the community band.
    He said, “Not only do I enjoy playing with the community band, I also enjoy other musical collaborations with some of the band members.” He has also performed in concert with other musicians in Pagosa.
    Since moving to Pagosa, Heintzleman’s expertise as an audio engineer has served as the backbone of a myriad of concert and theatrical productions. Meanwhile, his interests in percussion continue to expand.
    “I received my first hand drum, a cajon, in 2016,” he said. “I really appreciate the portability and convenience of this instrument and how easy it is to just start playing at home, at a moment’s notice, when inspired. I enjoy the hand drumming experience so much that I have followed up the cajon with a conga drum. I now wonder why it has taken me so long to discover the joy of hand drumming.”
    In a subtle manner that would make his childhood mentor proud, Heintzleman lends his strengths as an accomplished percussionist to the creative process of the hand-drumming class, which benefits by his presence.
    For more information about the hand-drumming class, email banjocrazy@centurytel.net or call 731-3117. The Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse is located at 230 Port Ave.