Táta Vega, Eddie Tuduri and the rest of the band Pockets will perform at the Lobero Theatre on December 11 for a benefit concert for The Rhythmic Arts Project.
Táta Vega, Eddie Tuduri and the rest of the band Pockets will perform at the Lobero Theatre on Dec. 11 for a benefit concert for The Rhythmic Arts Project. (David Palmer photo)

It takes more than a global pandemic to stop The Rhythmic Arts Project (TRAP), a Santa Barbara-based organization that uses a unique methodology of rhythm as a modality to educate individuals with intellectual and developmental differences.

TRAP founder Eddie Tuduri told Noozhawk, “It’s amazing that it stayed alive and well and thriving through this pandemic, on Zoom.”

But, he noted, “it took a long time to develop the tools. We had to get at least one drum to every student, wherever they were. And we managed to adjust our visual aids to work on one drum, where normally we would put four drums out, with four different colors, numbers, accents or shapes on the drums.”

Although drums play a central role in the TRAP curriculum, Tuduri emphasized, “I don’t teach drums. We use them to articulate almost all of the lessons. It’s a voice for the curriculum, for the pedagogy.”

“The job of the drum in the TRAP curriculum is to draw you in, to make it fun, to add not only a tactile component, but also an auditory component, to give visual, auditory, tactile, combined with speech,” he continued. “It’s fun, and it helps us to remember the lesson, too.”

TRAP has a global reach, with thriving programs in such far-flung locales as Kenya, Syria, Thailand and Ecuador, in addition to many scattered around the United States.

“In Africa, they love it,” Tuduri said. “I think that’s one of the places where it’ll continue forever.”

When he first visited classrooms in Ecuador that were using the TRAP curriculum, he was pleasantly surprised to see kids with intellectual differences and neurotypical kids all learning together, with no mention of inclusion — it’s just the way it is.

As a drummer, Tuduri toured and/or recorded with Ricky Nelson, Jim Messina, Steve Perry, Dr. John, Ike Turner, The Beach Boys, Johnny Rivers, Delaney Bramlett, Bobby Whitlock and many other artists. After breaking his neck in a body surfing accident, he has devoted his boundless energy to TRAP.

His main drumming gig now is with the band Pockets, which also includes other amazing musicians such as singer Táta Vega, who was featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary “Twenty Feet from Stardom” and has sung backing vocals for Elton John and Michael Jackson; guitarist Chris Pinnick, who was lead guitarist for Chicago during the early 1980s; and singer/percussionist Carl Graves, whose credits range from the Canadian band Skylark to Oingo Boingo.

Pockets will be performing at the Lobero Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 11 in a benefit concert for TRAP. Tickets and more information about the band can be found at lobero.org/events/trap/.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.