Monday, February 07, 2011


Istanbul Feb 7th 2011

Well I’m almost halfway through the Istanbul part of my Middle Eastern Winter Adventure! I can’t believe how fast this trip is flying by! I still wake up every day thinking, “oh goody, another day in Istanbul! What a treat!

Poor Egypt!
For the past six years I’ve spent a good part of my year in Egypt. Last year was the first time I officialy had a dumbek retreat in the magical Sinai Desert, and it was such a success that I was planning to do it again this year.

But now there is a revolution happening in Egypt. I hope that this revolution will lead to better times for the Egyptian people but in the meantime its a big mess and there’s no way I can bring a group over there. My friend Marjory is a journalist in Cairo for the AP. I just skyped with her and she is determined to stick it out and not be intimidated by Moobaraks thugs! She now refers to her apartment as “Revolution Headquarters”. Go Marjory!!!!

I decided to make the best out of the situation and instead of canceling I moved the retreat to Istanbul! I’m actually getting really excited about bringing my students to my favorite city, introducing them to the greatest dumbek players on the planet and showing them the rich turkish culture! For more info about the istanbul retreat check out

Pistachio Thumb
The best snack for practcing is dried figs and pistachios. SOmething about the combination of the sweet mushy figs and the crunchy salty pistachios is so addictive and gives amazing energy for practicing!
But unfortunately, Euphrates and I have both been afflicted with an ailement that I’ve named it “pistachio thumb”. It happens when you eat way to many pistachio nuts so that the nail on your thumb with which you pry the pistachios open actually breaks. In this condition, it’s almost impossible to open your own nuts so you need to have a friend open them for you (until the friend gets “pistachio thumb”!)

Going Away Party for Sam
The day be fore Sam left to go back home we had our first (and probably last) big party at our place! It was really fun. We had a few celebrities such as Okay Temiz, Emin (of Emin Percussion) and of course Bunyamin!
During the jamming I was experimenting with holding a throat singing droaning under someone’s solo. I thought it was working great, but for some reason every time I started throat singing, Emin would throw popcorn at me!

Here is some footage of us jamming at the party:

Classical Music Gig
My friend David Kucherman was supposed to come to Istanbul to play this classical baroque concert with and orchestra. At the last minute he hurt his neck so he asked if I could substitute for him! So I find myself playing dumbek and frame drums in this orchestra with a conductor! What a flashback into my past! It was fine, but boy did it make me glad that I’m playing my own original music!

Our Restaurant
Euphrates and I found the BEST restaurant! They have this thing called mixed vegetable platter and every day there is a different variety of delicious vegan vegetable dishes. The guy likes us alot so he gives us extra free food every time and tops off our wine glasses. And the wine glasses keep getting bigger and bigger! The last time we went there was like a half bottle of wine in each glass!

Euphrates is doing great! Her Turkish split hand technique is getting really good! She's been taking privates with Bunyamin! She's also fallen in love with the yayli tambur. She composed a beautiful piece on the yayli tambur one day after she started playing the instrument!

Feb 6,2011 Istanbul!

Remember Adama from the 2009 Istanbul blog? Well look what happened! She had an adorable half Turkish baby! It is soooo cute! She lives in England now but she was visiting Istanbul so I got to hang our with her and her baby. What a cute family!

Stupid Triplets
When will my triplets ever sound like Bunyamin’s???!!!!????!!!??? Somtimes I feel like they are really coming along and sounding good but then Bunyamin walks into the room and I lose it completely. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard on anything as much as I work on those stupid triplets. It is so hard to make them even and clear! If you are in the least bit tense it all goes to shit. I really hope that one day they will sound like Bunyamin’s and in the meantime all I can do is enjoy the process.

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