WEST AFRICAN DRUMMING

Learn to Play the African Drums / Djembe from a professional percussionist!


Book a performance/demonstration for that special occasion.


Workshops for Schools with students from

5 y.o. and upwards.

Click to email

Richard Latham


Or Tel him on:

07960 989246

West African Drumming workshops can do the world of good for body and soul. It is uplifting, fun and at the same time stress relieving.

West African drumming is suitable for everyone regardless of musical knowledge. In fact,  you do not need any previous musical knowledge at all.

During the drumming demonstrations, lessons or workshops, Richard Latham, the owner and organiser of Rich Rhythms, will provide everyone with a djembe drum and take participants through simple and more more complex rhythms.  

You will be surprised at the end result and how much you enjoyed getting there!

Dancing to the rhythms of Djembe Drums

Origins of the African Drums

The djembe is a Mandé drum, found in all of West Africa, where it is one of the most common instruments. There is general agreement that the origin of the djembe is associated with a class of Mandinka/Susu blacksmiths known as Numu. The wide dispersion of the djembe drums throughout West Africa may be due to Numu migrations dating from the first millennium A.D. Some modern players trace the djembe back 3,000 years to the Bamana ethnic group from the Wosolo region of what is now Mali. The Bamana people have a word "jebebara" or "unity drum" (Abdouli Diakite). Despite the associations of the djembe with the Numu, there do not appear to be hereditary restrictions upon who can play the djembe as occurs with some other African instruments. Spelling "jembe" with the "dj" comes from the fact that French has no hard "j" sound like that found in English. The "dj" is used to indicate the hard "j" pronunciation. The French were instrumental in studying and describing African drumming to the world. However, colonization by the French is a sore spot for many West African people and spelling jembe with the "d" can be a painful reminder of that. Since independence (1958-1960) African governments have been working toward indigenous ways of spelling their local languages in accordance with international standards of phonetic transcription.



Djembe Drums - they come in all sizes.

Technique: The proper sound is achieved with minimum effort for maximum effect. The key is to either focus or disperse the hand's energy and position the hand in the correct place. The bass and tone notes require focused energy (a beginner will have the most success by holding their fingers firmly together), while the slap requires dispersed energy (fingers are relaxed).

Striking the skin with the palm and fingers toward the drum's centre produces a bass note; striking the skin near the rim (with the fleshy part of the palm just above the rim) produces the tone and slap. Beginners may think of the tone and slap as fingers "together" and "apart." Advanced players will not take the time to make that obvious physical change, but rather make a less visibly obvious change from "focused" to "dispersed".