Our Teachers

Just a few members of our nation-wide team! From West African to home-grown talent, our experienced percussionists all have extensive facilitation and performance experience

Simon Fraser (Director)

Simon has been drumming his heart out all his life. Starting with plastic drum-kits and pots n pans as a kid and then graduating to a drum kit, he’s played many styles of music and found his passion in West African rhythms. Annual trips to West Africa since the mid 1990’s have seen him collaborate with some of the regions’ great percussionists. Simon returns to the region every year in search of new music, running a Tour to Africa. His love and knowledge of rhythm translates to his teaching where he focuses on tapping into your creativity, dexterity, honoring tradition and having fun.
Read Simon’s full bio…

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Jeremy Prentice (aka JMan)

jeremy prenticeAnswering the call of the djembe in 2005, Jeremy has been following West African music ever since. With a deep respect for the spirit and traditions of djembe, he has studied extensively in West Africa and Australia. His strong passion for sharing the heart of djembe, a love of teaching, and a willingness to always learn more, combine to create a class that is as challenging as it is rewarding. Jeremy heads up our corporate and teacher training facilitation team and manages our St Kilda headquarters in Melbourne.
Read Jeremy’s staff profile…

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Shabba

ShabbaShabba is a professional dancer from Ghana, whose styles include Traditional, Contemporary, Comedy, Acrobatics, RnB and Hip Hop. He is a member of both Asanti Dance Theatre (VIC) and African Footprints (Ghana) and has performed and facilitated workshops in African dance throughout Europe. Now based in Melbourne, Shabba brings a character and energy to his teaching that is infectious to his audience. He specialises in school and community workshops and has gained an excellent reputation working with children.

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Alena Schneider

BeepsA formidable percussionist and natural teacher, Alena graduated from the prestigious Victorian College of the Arts in 2008. Since starting on drum kit at the age of 10, she has fuelled her instrument addiction by branching out into all sorts of classical, mallet and African percussion. She has a passion for educating young (and the young at heart) minds on the culture, music, song and dance for which Africa is renowned. Alena has taken two extended tours to Ghana. She hopes to one day own a two storey house where the top floor is completely dedicated to drums.

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Fredrick Kpakpo Addo

A Master dancer and drummer, Fredrick Kpakpo Addo has recently arrived to Australia from Ghana, West Africa. He is a talented multi instrumentalist and has toured in Sweden, Israel, 22 states of the United States of America and also many African countries. In addition, he has worked with huge dance companies such as the Nokoba Dance Company, Kusum Gboo Dance Ensemble and the Anunyam Traditional Music and Dance Troupe.

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Nii Bortey

Nii BBorn and raised in Nungua in greater Accra, Ghana, Nii Bortey is a talented and charismatic percussionist. Like many African performance artists, Nii grew up surrounded by music, and has been drumming ever since he could hold a stick! A popular member of the electric and experienced African Drumming team, Nii has a passion for sharing the culture, music, song and dance of West African culture. He regularly runs African Drumming school sessions and programmes, drumming parties and uplifting workshops.

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Julius Bright Sackey

sackeyBorn and raised in Cape Coast, Ghana, Sackey started dancing at a very young age with “Work Dancers” where he specialised in hip hop and free style dance. After two years he joined a traditional African group and found his way to “Agoro Theatre Company” before co-founding “Asanti Dance Theatre” where he is the assistant artistic director.  Sackey has travelled to the UK with several Ghanaian dance theatres, performing and teaching traditional and contemporary dance.  Now based in Melbourne, he continues to amaze audiences with his expressive and fluid style.

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 Brianna Slattery

After 10 years of playing the piano, Brianna bought her first djembe at the age of 18 – and promptly fell in love with African drumming!  This sparked an interest in all things percussive, which in turn led her to participate in African drumming, Brazilian percussion and body percussion workshops; become a facilitator of a drumming intervention/wellbeing program; and complete the L1, L2, & L3 facilitator training with African Drumming. As a primary school teacher, Brianna has been teaching drumming to school students for the past seven years. She is passionate about the use of the drum as a teaching tool, and is currently completing a Masters thesis on drumming and student engagement.  Brianna believes that being a member of a drumming community has far reaching-benefits, including: enhancing musicality, building relationships, boosting confidence and improving general well being.

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Boubacar Gaye

bouba drummerBouba first laid his hands on a drum in Senegal at the budding age of 14. Inspired by the musical mentors around him he became a member of the infamous Mama Afrika. Under the guidance of ballet professor Joseph-Raphael Bouschanzl, Bouba’s skills and passion grew quickly and soon he was also a member of the renowned Foret Sacre Ballet. In 1997 Bouba ventured to Europe and then onto Japan where he established himself as a leading African percussionists. With an energy and peace of mind that resonates from deep within – Bouba speaks a thousand words with his drum.

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David Hickey

Dave HDave has been studying and performing west African percussion for the past 6 years.
After discovering a drum circle in St.kilda on his first week in Australia, he was drawn to the sound of the Djembe and the obsession began!
Dave studied with traditional masters in Ghana in 2010 and continued his apprenticeship in Australia under the guidance of Simon Fraser, Mady Keita, Boubacar Gaye and Jeremy Prentice. Dave performs regularly in Oz and Ireland incorporating his love of African beats into myriad genres of music. He always brings his Irish charm, warmth and a sense of humor to his classes whilst still respecting the traditions and history of its origins.

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Kofi Kunkpe

kofiKofi Kunkpe is an Ewe master drummer from the Volta Region of Ghana. He is passionate about traditional culture and helping to improve the lives of the people of Ghana. After early studies in Nigeria he travelled throughout Ghana and Burkina Faso, promoting, performing and teaching Ghana’s traditional dance and drumming forms. Since then, Kofi has performed and taught with many local and international companies in America, Africa & Australia. His teaching extends to working with disadvantaged children and he regularly teaches drumming, dance and flute in local schools in the Cape Coast region. He is now based in the Yarra Valley in Warburton.

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Gabriel Otu

Afotey and AgoResiding in Brisbane since 2008, Gabriel Otu has been performing traditional Ghanaian and West African drum and dance since the age of 15.
A dynamic master dance and drum performer , he presents a powerful & traditional West African music, dance, storytelling & cultural package.
His Kinder and School workshops foster acceptance & learning within a fun and inclusive environment.
Gabriel has performed numerous venues across Oz, including The Woodford Folk Festival, The Roma Street Multi Cultural Festival, The African Day Festival & Dream World.

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Laura Kirkwood

Laura has been studying percussion for over 12 years, touring and recording with various bands ranging from jazz to ska. Following the beat of her own drum, she attended African Drumming’s 2013 tour to West Africa, studying with Master drummers in Ghana and Burkina Faso. She became fascinated in how music is central to the flow of life, igniting an interest to study different cultures music. After completing African Drumming’s Teacher Training Course, Laura had the opportunity to teach workshops across Australia, and began teaching her own music therapy classes in Brisbane. Having studied Latin music at the University of Florida, she has since been accepted into postgraduate studies in ethnomusicology at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music in 2017. Laura believes that music can transcend language barriers and is sometimes a language of its own.

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Bruno De Moura Floriano

Capoeira teacherKnown as ‘Gingadinha’ in the world of Capoeira, he began training in 1990 with Mestre Celso da Rainha in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After completing 10 years of study and practice, Bruno graduated as a Teacher of Capoeira and in 2007 he received the title of Treinel from Mestre Mano. Gingadinha’s methodology of teaching Capoeira is through Capoeria Angola. Bringing a highly energetic and dedicated approach, he exudes the positive vibe of the Brazilian people. Gingadinha also performs various music and dances related to Capoeira, such as Maculele and Samba de Roda, and is a creative artisan of all things Capoeira. Check out Bruno on YouTube

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Daniela Schillaci

DunDunDanDaniela has held a passion for West African music and culture since 2008. Earning the nickname Dun Dun Dan, she has trained intensively on duns with Simon Fraser, Boubacar Gaye, Simon Lewis and drum-kit player Samantha Arthur.
In Dec 2013 Daniela joined Simon Fraser’s Rhythm Power drum and study intensive to Ghana and Burkina Faso where she trained under Griots Sekou Coulibaly and Adama Koueta. Daniela continues to travel to Burkina Faso where she has since started her “Griot Vision” project, schooling children from the Coulibaly and Koueta families. She continues to immerse herself in the West African culture and music with dance, dun, balafon and percussion training. Daniela is always excited to share all that she has learned!

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Ben Coleman

ben teacherFalling head first into West African drumming many years ago, Ben has kept a burning passion for the music ever since. With a memory that captures drum patterns like a steel trap, his knowledge and talent are well respected. Having studied and played alongside the likes of Master Guinean Djembefola Aliou Sylla, Boubacar Gaye and Simon Lewis, he is always hungry for more. Sharing an uplifting spirit and infectious joy for drumming, his classes are always percussively challenging and packed with good vibes.

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Nicole Lewis

nic-lewisNicole is a classically trained flautist who began playing djembe in Bondi in the early nineties.  Now living in Bendigo, Nicole has completed a Bachelor of Education and works as a full-time primary school teacher, teaching music. Nicole takes every spare moment to feed her passion and hone her skills, attending drum retreats and visiting workshops, and has recently returned from West Africa where she studied the traditional rhythms and culture of the best drummers in the world. Some of her teachers include Sayon Souare, Boubacar Gaye, Bangouraké, Mady Keita, Adama Koueta from Burkina Faso, and the Grand Master of Djembe, Mamady Keita.

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Peter Lee

leePete has been involved in the Melbourne music scene as a drummer and percussionist for many years, working with artists across the musical spectrum. Having played in just about every style, these days he focuses on teaching and performing West African percussion around Mornington Peninsula. He runs weekly classes in Balnarring for all levels and a new class has now started in Mornington. Pete’s student groups always impress when they perform at Tribalism, sharing in his obvious enthusiasm for music.

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Djulz Chambers

djulzDjulz began studying and performing West African percussion in Melbourne several years ago.  She has travelled West Africa extensively, studying with master drummers and musicians in Mali, Ghana and Burkina Faso. Based in Melbourne, Djulz continues to study and perform with some of Melbourne’s most renown artists in the field including Mady Keita, Bouba Gaye, Sayon Souare and Simon Fraser. Her great love of the djembe and of African culture exudes an infectious energy and creates a fun learning environment in her classes.

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 Amadou Suso

Amadou Suso

 Amadou Suso from Gambia is part of a Mandinka tribe that have been playing the Kora for centuries. The kora originated in Gambia 750 years ago and Amadou is a direct descendant of the first Kora player.
Amadou first started playing the Kora when he was 6 years old and was shorter than the instrument itself.
He has since travelled the world and played in some of the biggest festivals around. Now, he is living in Melbourne and will be bringing all his skills and passion of both traditional and contemporary music into workshops with African Drumming.

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Emmanuel Aryeetey

EmmanuelEmmanuel is a drummer and dancer from Ghana. He has performed with many ensembles of various styles: brass bands, traditional west African drums and more. Since moving to Australia, Emmanuel especially enjoyed performing with African groups and teaching children at juvenile justice centres. Emmanuel’s style of teaching is calm and quiet, taking his time to ensure each student has an understanding of what they are doing before moving forward. He believes that music, drumming and dancing are medicine, and his passion is evident in his performances and workshops.

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Mohamed Camara

mohamed-camara Mohamed Camara has been performing and teaching traditional Guinean percussion for over a decade. Former djembe soloist for internationally-renowned Guinean ensembles Ballet Destin, Ballet Bolonta and Les Sorciers de Guinée, Mohamed has studied and performed with master drummers Aliou Sylla, Fadouba Oularé, and Miriam Makeba’s percussionist Papa Kouyaté.