Beatriz Muñiz's Apprenticeship Blog


-Hello, What I've been doing since my last blog is trying to sing lead or "Akpuon" with the bata at these last few gatherings and I am humbled! The bata rhythms that I "know" from singing at Bembes (spiritual gatherings) for years are now sounding different. Being the "Akpuon" or lead singer has my ears open in an entirely different way. Knowing firstly where the song is with the clave. Then trying to play clave using the "achere," (a maraca) Once that is ok I then bring in the lead or "akpuon."

Needless to say I am learning and growing.

Thank you!

listening to recording

I am just listening to a recording of class from February and it is sinking in. And it inspired me to post this picture.


I wanted to talk about our gathering last Thursday. We went through the Oru Seco as usual but then I was told to play the Itotole. I thought there was confusion or something and asked if he really wanted me on that drum. Yes, as he (Master Drummer) was going to sing akpuon. Great! I can get a feel for this drum. And what a difference. Firstly, it is wider than the Okonkolo so just holding it is different! That will be a challenge if I play it again. But the other thing is the conversation between the Iya and the Itotole. Luckily I knew the songs and it made it just a bit easier to play. And again, I am so greatful to be learning bata. And humbled by the Master Bata Drummer and the depth of his knowledge. And his teach ability . Thank you!

 Apprentice on Itotole

On the Okonkolo

Hello, well it continues to be a challenge to sit in the Okonkolo chair but I am feeling a bit more comfortable playing. And again, what a difference when you play and sing verses dance and sing. I love all aspects and continue to have a great respect for bata drummers that sing at the same time! We had a friend up for two sessions, Michael Lannon. He is a great bata drummer and the "Drum Doctor" from San Francisco! And he gave me a pointer about playing and technique. So thank you Mike Lannon! The singing has started so I play the oru seco then sing the oru cantado. Well let me clarify! I try to play the oru seco then try to sing the oru cantado! What a blessing to be able to do that which one loves. And again thank you ACTA!

First entry

We started meeting again every Thursday evening. Because of an injury to one of the bata drummers I moved into a bata playing position. As a dancer it is extremely important to know the drum. And it is extremely different dancing to the drums versus sitting playing the rhythms I normally dance to. It is exciting and humbling and I look forward to growing as a percussionist as well as a dancer of Afro Cuban Folklore!

About this Blog

Afro-Cuban batá drummer Beatriz Muñiz, of Sacramento, California, was an apprentice in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2011 with master artist Harold Muñiz.

This blog followed the course of Beatriz's apprenticeship with Harold, as they worked to refine Beatriz's mastery of her "chair," or specific drum she plays within the batá ensemble.

One of Beatriz' co-apprentices, Dominic Gracia, also blogged about his apprenticeship.

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