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Listening Like the Drummer

kawanzaaThe Talking Drum is placed in the midst of the community it will serve. By listening, it absorbs the language. But the drum cannot communicate without the drummer – except in special cases.

A Talking drummer’s grandfather gave his own personal Talking Drum to his grandson. It was done because the young drummer had become very skilled and it was time for the venerable old drummer to sit down. When the old man died, the drum spoke from inside the drum closet and the grandson, lying on his bed, knew.

In most cases, however, the drummer must be very skillful and an excellent listener for the drum to communicate through him or her. We believe there are “Levels of Listening” and the drummer must master them. In fact, for effective communication, we all should learn and practice them. To learn the first Level of Listening, you must practice full Attention to the message. And being Quiet is the only way to do that. Just imagine. You’re in a classroom where one hundred students are all quiet, giving full attention! That’s the first step to a true learning environment. So, the first level is being quiet to listen.

imagesThe next level follows the old school of drum instruction: Hear and Repeat – perfectly. Have you ever asked a child or an employee, “Did you hear what was said? Repeat what was said.” And the person couldn’t repeat it. It’s not easy because the message must be repeated in the same words and tones, the same speed, and the exact inflections – just as it was spoken. Otherwise, you didn’t hear it. Hear and repeat perfectly is Listening Level Two. Many quarrels and confusion – as in the Liberian legislature – could be avoided, time and money saved, if all concerned mastered Levels One and Two.

Mastery of Level Three makes you equivalent to a good drummer or communicator. Level Three consists of Retaining the message. It requires Focus. It means you can remember and repeat your message even in the midst of other distracting messages. If there are drummers all around you playing rhythms different from yours, you must maintain your rhythm, your message, just as it was given to you. Or, if your message is, “We don’t lie, steal or cheat,” and you are surrounded by corruption, you must retain your righteous message with strength and vigor as it was given to you.

Communicating or Sharing your message is Listening Level Four. What if you are sharing your message with a special person or audience like children or elders? What if you must share your message in another language? These situations require Creativity. You must understand your message so well that you can communicate the message at a very high level of clarity no matter what! Now you are like the master drummer or the master communicator.

 Study the “Art of Listening.” Let’s start communicating for Unity in Liberia.