West African Drumming

Ref: C2524708

We will study one or more traditional rhythm pieces originating from the Mande or Malinke culture of Guinea and Mali. We will learn the fundamental skills to play djembe (hand drums) and dunun (bass drums played with sticks). No experience is required or assumed but musical skills or experience will be useful. Please get in touch if you are interested in a group for complete beginners as we can accommodate this if we get sufficient interest.

Course aim

To provide an introduction to West African drumming playing traditional rhythm pieces and instruments. Although there are some more experienced players in the class this group is accessible for students who are complete beginners.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for beginners
  • This course is for improvers
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Play the main three sounds on the djembe - bass tone and slap
  • Play simple accompaniment rhythm parts on the djembe
  • Play several bass drum (dunun) and bell parts parts
  • Know the cultural background of the rhythm piece we are studying

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • I may provide links to online resources of interest for students to follow up if they like.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • All materials will be provided
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Opportunities to perform with the Drummed Up group or attend workshops with African teachers

Download full course information sheet

West African Drumming


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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