International Rhythm Adventures

Drummer’s Exchange in Olinda, Brazil

January 10-20, 2019

Are you ready for DRUM HEAVEN?

Imagine ONE place where you can study and immerse yourself in the rhythms from (almost) EVERY place: Afro-Cuban Rumba, Bembe and Iyesa rhythms, Maracatu, Ijexa and Samba de Coco from Brazil’s Northeast, American Hip-Hop and Funk, Aconcon and Kassa rhythms from Guinea, Malian Lamban and Fankani rhythms, Reggae, Trap Drums, Djembe, Conga, Surdo, Alfai, Ilu, Chekere, Agogo, Pandeiro. Ancient, traditional rhythms from Mali, Guinee and Senegal. New music from Havana, Rio and NYC. Hiphop beats from Oakland, old-school rumba and comparsa, reggae grooves from Kingston…AND MORE!

DRUM X: a scintillating journey into rhythm!

Anchored by four world-class percussionists and held over a 10-day period in Olinda, Brazil, DRUM X 2019 provides experienced drummers unparalleled access to some of the planet’s most exciting traditional and contemporary rhythms in a breath-taking, culturally vibrant city by the sea!

From January 10-20, 2019, the historic city of Olinda, Brazil, becomes home to percussionists from around the globe united in their love of rhythm, culture and creativity.

DRUM X stands for “DRUMMERS EXCHANGE”. Openness, harmony and generosity are the hallmarks of this incredible gathering of the world’s percussionists. This Ten-Day Immersion into the DRUM includes all classes, accommodations, food and end-of-program drum performance!

DRUM X 2019: Olinda, Brazil Teachers:

Emerson Santana

Emerson Santana is a rising young percussion star born in Olinda, Brazil, who has devoted his considerable talents to the traditional rhythms of the Brazilian Northeast: Maracatu, Frevo, Afoxe, Baioa, Samba de Coco and Embolada. A devoted community leader, Emerson leads several youth percussion ensembles in Olinda and is widely regarded and one of Olinda’s brightest and most versatile musicians. Mr. Santana’s recording and/or performing credits include Maciel Salu, Estrela Brilhante de Igarassu, Trio Praiba.

Robert “Bobby” Wallace

Robert “Bobby” Wallace is a veteran percussionist from Oakland, California, USA specializing in the traditional and contemporary music of Cuba, the Caribbean, and the United States. The foundation of Bobby’s training is Afro-Cuban Rumba, bembe, makuta, iyesa and mozambique, and his original compositions also incorporate funk, hiphop, calypso and reggae music. Mr. Wallace’s recording and/or performing credits include Bonnie Riatt, Margareth Menezes, David Rudder, Airto Moreira, Rhythm Cafe & Amanda Santiago.

Joas Santos

Joas Santos is a musical genius who has chosen to concentrate his studies and energy on the traditional music of West Africa, with special focus on the drum culture of Guinea and Mali. He plays a dizzying array of percussion instruments including djembe, dundun, tama, ngoni, pandeiro, and sings beautifully. He currently leads the acclaimed Fankani Grupo. Mr. Santos is also an accomplished instrument maker, hand-crafting a multitude of drums and stringed instruments including Mali-style ngoni.

Paulinho Ogun

Paulinho Ogun is another of Olinda’s promising young percussion talents. Like Mr. Santana, his background is in the traditional rhythms of Brazil’s northeast: Maracatu, Afoxe, Caboclo and Frevo, and he is equally adept with traditional alfaia and caixa and ilu drums as the modern drum kit. Mr. Ogun’s performance and recording credits include Domingueira Roots, BongoMassa, and Sabrina Blasco.

Warmth and Openness!

But what truly sets these four percussion All-Stars apart from their peers is their insatiable desire to learn and create. Their profound open-mindedness about the future of rhythm is contagious. While each is a product of the traditional music they have devoted the majority of their lives to studying, none is bound by it, and cross-cultural jams, compositions and in-the-moment performances are the norm.

Olinda, Brazil Daily Schedule:

Thursday, January 10 – Sunday, January 20, 2019

9-10am: Breakfast. Prepared by our chef.

10:30am-12:30pm: Morning Drum Class with Bobby Wallace. Instruction will begin with the traditional rhythms of Afro-Cuba: Rumba, Bembe, Makuta and Iyesa, and will then progress to Bobby’s modern pieces fusing traditional and modern rhythms including Mozambique, Comparsa, HipHop and Funk. (Note: All of Bobby’s morning classes are offered free of charge to the Brazilian percussion community. This is DRUM X’s way of “giving back” to the incredible musicians of this region, and it fosters a wonderful openness and sense of sharing that permeates our experience.)

1-2pm: Lunch. Prepared by our chef.

2-4pm: Free time.

4-6pm: Afternoon Drum Class with Emerson, Joas, and/or Paulinho (or some combination of the three). These sessions will rotate between traditional rhythms from the Northeast of Brazil (Maracatu, Afoxe, Samba de Coco), and traditional rhythms of West Africa (Guinee and Mali regions), as well as original compositions. As players progress, the instructors will add modern elements and concepts. All instruments provided.

6:30-7:30pm: Dinner. Prepared by our chef.

8-10pm: This is an open time in which students are invited to share ideas, create compositions and, of course, jam!

10pm – ???: Nighttime concerts, shows, events, parties. Jump into the wild and vibrant Olinda music scene! DRUM X staff will give you the inside scoop on all the hot shows: who’s playing where, when, and how to get there. Samba de Coco parties, intimate Baiao concerts, Frevo bands, Cavalho Marino performances, Maracatu street parades…Virtually every night of the week in Olinda is ON FIRE with music and culture. DRUM X staff will usually (but not always and cannot be guaranteed) accompany students, or they are free to go on their own. (These are add-on events, and are not covered by the cost of DRUM X enrollment.)

DRUM X 2019: Olinda, Brazil Pricing

Complete 10-day package includes all accommodations, meals, and drum/percussion lessons, for only

$1,600* $1,900!

(Does not include airfare.)

*Early Sign-up Discount if paid in full by October 31, 2018. Regular price is $1,900


Email Robert at
or call 510-967-6135

Getting a Visa

Click here for detailed instructions on getting your Brazil Visa from the SF Consulate or click here for an expedited visa at an additional cost.

Olinda, Brazil

The charming city of Olinda is a rhythm and cultural powerhouse in Brazil. Nestled on the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil’s northeast, Olinda boasts over 50 art galleries, colonial architecture dating back to the 1600’s (including the famous Sao Bento basilica and monastery built in 1586), quaint cafes, vibrant street culture and, most importantly, a seemingly endless cascade of RHYTHMS & DRUMS!

The Olinda Vibe is friendly, welcoming and joyous! Through your DrumX connections you will meet musicians, dancers and creative folks throughout the city, and you will be welcomed into the pre-Carnaval festivities with open arms.

Want to perform?

DRUM X 2019 Olinda will culminate with a student and teacher-led public performance and celebration entitled “MANY RHYTHMS, ONE BEAT” featuring material learned in our 10 days together! (Note: performance not mandatory.)

Note: DRUM X teachers will also be recording studio tracks for forthcoming album, and students may be able to participate in this process as well.

DRUM X Track Record

DRUM X 2018 in Olinda was so successful that the Minister of Culture for the Brazilian State of Pernambuco, Mr. Rubens Paz do Nascimento, officially sanctioned and recognized DRUM X’s musical contribution to Olinda’s music scene.

DRUM X has led SIX Percussion Exchanges around the world since it’s inception in 2014:

  • DRUM X 2014: Yelepa, Mexico
  • DRUM X 2015: Salvador, Brazil
  • DRUM X 2016: Havana, Cuba
  • DRUM X 2017: San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • DRUM X 2018: Olinda, Brazil


Questions? Email Robert at or call 510-967-6135

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The Accommodations

All percussionists with DRUM X stay in Olinda’s cultural heart: the historical city center. Bars, cafes, restaurants, studios, concert halls, public parks for cultural events and performances are all within walking distance of our home. The old, cobblestone streets of Olinda come ALIVE with pulsating rhythms of maracatu, frevo, baiao, samba de coco.

However, DRUM X students must understand that this is an urban environment, there is no air conditioning (fans only), and it gets hot and stuffy. Our homes are safe, clean and comfortable, but very simple and sparse. If you’re looking for a fancy hotel, or deluxe accommodations, you may arrange for that on your own (at your own cost). We stay in the neighborhoods where the music and culture is made.

The Food

All meals provided by our personal chef and our served fresh in our houses! However, please be advised that these are simple meals, fresh and satisfying, but not fancy. Our chef uses local ingredients and prepares traditional working-class Brazilian food. If you are looking for elaborate meals, you will need to visit one of Olinda’s many restaurants (at your own cost).

If you are interested in a deep immersive musical experience in the heart of one of the planet’s most emphatic drum cities, DRUM X is for you!

Are you ready for drum heaven? Book now…space is limited!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is DRUM X ?
    Drum X is an immersive 10-day event which brings together percussionists from around the world for classes, performances and music/cultural exchanges. Past Drum X events have included percussionists from Japan, Brazil, Germany, Puerto Rico, Senegal, New Zealand, Israel, India, Cuba and the USA.
  2. When is the next DRUM X?
    January 10-20, 2019.
  3. Where is the next DRUM X?
    In the beautiful, rhythm-filled city of Olinda, Brazil, home of some of the planet’s most compelling beats, including Maracatu, Frevo, Baioa, and Afoxe (and many more)!
  4. Who are the drum teachers at DRUM X 2019: Olinda Brazil
    An incredible mix of talent and experience: Robert “Bobby” Wallace, Emerson Santana, Joas Santos and Paulinho Ogun. See above for full bios.
  5. What rhythms will be taught?
    LOTS! Rhythms from Brazil, USA, Guinea, Cuba, Mali, Trinidad, Senegal…plus original percussion compositions. See above for DRUM X teachers’ bios.
  6. Must DRUM X Attendees be Pro Drummers?
    NO! Absolutely not. Drum X is open to drummers and percussionists of all levels. Classes and programs are designed to meet the specific needs of the students.
  7. Must Drum X Attendees bring their own drums and percussion instruments?
    Yes. All attendees are expected to bring at least one drum and/or percussion instrument. A limited number of percussion instruments (congas, djembe, dundun, alfai, snare) will be available for group use (past DRUM X programs have seen all attendees freely share their instruments with other attendees).
  8. What is a typical DRUM X day?
    Breakfast (prepared by our private chef) at 9am. First drum/percussion class from 10am-12noon. 12:30 – 1:30pm: Lunch. 1:30 – 4pm: Free Time. Explore the city, rest, socialize…From 4-6pm is the afternoon drum class. Dinner at 6:30pm. From 8-11pm is time for musical exchange, jams, performances. 11pm is quiet time, and all further music occurs off-premises.
  9. What are DRUM X Accommodations like?
    Simple, clean and nice. Not fancy. We stay in the central district of Olinda, Brazil, in an very safe urban neighborhood, however there is no air-conditioning and the street vibe is active and cultural. DRUM X attendees SHARE rooms, usually 2 or 3 persons per room. Everyone has their own bed, linens and clean towels.
  10. What are DRUM X Meals like?
    Delicious and nourishing. Not fancy or gourmet. We eat traditional, healthy, “working class” food like the locals, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and traditional flavors. We have vegetarian options at all meals.
  11. What is the overall VIBE of DRUM X?
    Very open and encouraging. Supportive. Fun-loving people from around the world having a great time playing music, learning, and experiencing a beautiful cultural exchange!
  12. How much does DRUM X cost?
    Registration by October 31, 2018: $1,600 (includes all classes/workshops, all accommodation and food, does not include airfare).
    Registration after October 31, 2018: $1,900 (includes all classes/workshops, all accommodation and food, does not include airfare).
  13. What is the cancellation policy?
    Cancellations for DRUM X 2019: Olinda, Brazil, made before September 1, 2018 will receive a 100% refund (minus transaction fees), cancellations before November 1, 2018 will receive a 50% refund (minus transaction fees). There are no refunds of any kind after November 1, 2018.