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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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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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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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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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 teacher

Plays: Berimbau, percussion

Bruno “Ginga” De Moura Floriano is is our resident drum maker by day and Treinel of Capoeira by night!

After surviving the sternest of 2 year apprenticeships with the Grand Master of drum makers Mady Keita, Bruno has flourished into an accomplished craftsman in his own right. A highly organized dude, he is patient and sensitive to the nuances of drum making. Ginga has been producing drums full time for 6 years now, predominantly crafting djembes and duns but also working with Persian, American Indian, South American and East African drums.

His journey in Capoeira Angola began in 1990, training with Mestre Celso da Rainha in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After years of study and practice, Ginga graduated as a Teacher of Capoeira and in 2007 he received the title of Treinel from Mestre Mano

Bruno is always in store so drop in and say hello, he is happy to share his skills and knowledge. You’re also welcome to book him for a drum making workshop

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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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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.

 

 

 

 

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 Kosta Michalopoulos

Kosta started his drumming journey in 2005 and ever since West African music and culture has become part of his life. He was an invaluable member of performance groups such as Purpledog Rhythms, Jakmani, and Wassawumba. He has studied under some of the best teachers in Melbourne such as Mady Keita, Boubacar Gaye, Sayon Souare, Simon Fraser and Simon Lewis. Kosta is a very dedicated and patient teacher with a renowned love for the ancient traditions of the djembe.

 

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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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Jessica  May

Whether Jess is playing the djembe, duns, shaker or bell, she feels happiness inside that is indescribable. Having started with drum kit lessons as a teenager, she discovered the djembe years later and was quickly hooked – starting a new chapter in her life. 
Her positive and supportive attitude is one of her many qualities as a teacher with both children and adults.

 

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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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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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 Henry Nii Otu Laryea

Henry is Wala’s Master drummer and percussionist from Ghana. Henry descends from a talented family of drummers, dancers and musicians and became an apprentice to his Master drummer at the age of 11. He keeps alive the traditional West African rhythms and adds rich vocal harmonies to performances. During his career, his ensembles toured across West Africa, France, and Italy, where they featured at festivals in Catania and Canicatti.

 

 

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