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Instrument Building And Repair

Expertise in traditional instrument building and repair

The Instrument Building And Repair workshops train participants from various African countries.
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The focus is on traditional African instruments.
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In 2020, participants learned to make the instrument kamale ngoni.
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They also learned how to make another traditional instrument: the mbira.
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Participants included instrument makers, music teachers as well as traditional and contemporary musicians.
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Many of the participants have gone on to make and sell their own instruments, or train others in traditional instrument building.
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African music is influenced by a variety of traditional instruments. However, skills in instrument building and repair are mainly spread among the older generation and there are hardly any professional specialists. The Music In Africa Foundation initiated the project “Instrument Building And Repair” to impart expertise and strengthen the professionalization of instrument building.

Workshops on instrument building and repair

Within the project, professional instrument builders hold workshops for participants from various African countries. Since 2015, these workshops have been providing knowledge about traditional instruments such as the marimba or the umakhweyana.

Key objectives of the Instrument Building And Repair Workshops

  • Professionalization of traditional instrument building
  • Exchange of ideas, expertise, experience and know-how among instrument builders in Africa
  • Transfer of knowledge and skills of local instruments between younger and older generations
  • Identification of existing knowledge gaps with the aim of introducing new solutions

Workshop 2020 in Gauteng

The workshop 2020 took place in Gauteng with 20 participants from South Africa under consideration of the special coronavirus circumstances. It focused on the construction and repair of the mbira and the string instrument kamale ngoni.

In order to spread knowledge about traditional instrument building in the long term, Siemens Stiftung encouraged the production of tutorial videos. This initiative was a project within the International Aid Fund 2020 for Organizations in Culture and Education of the German Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut.

„It’s important to learn the history of every drum and every string that is embedded in Africa.“

To conclude the Instrument Building And Repair Workshop 2020, Music In Africa presented the concert “Vibrations – A Celebration of African Instruments”. Musicians such as Pops Mohamed, Morena Leraba, Sibusile Xaba and Buhlebendalo performed.

Watch the concert  >