Dhow Countries Music Academy - Zanzibar

The DCMA opened Zanzibar's first professional music school in September 2002 providing music lessons as well as instruments at minimal cost to anyone interested in studying music related to their cultural background or wanting to acquire mastery of an instrument. Special emphasis has been placed on teaching traditional musical instruments and styles such as Taarab, Beni, Kidumbak, traditional Ngo'ma, and dancing such as Msewe, Bomu, Kiluwa, Kyaso etc. from the region of Unguja and Pemba.

The DCMA is proud to be the guardians of a living cultural heritage and proud to preserve and promote the musical heritage of Zanzibar and the Dhow Countries. In training the students it ensures the continuation, knowledge, and legacy of a unique musical cultural heritage.

The school provides a unique opportunity for the inhabitants of Zanzibar and the Dhow Regions to study music both related to their cultural background and more global genres of music. Whilst its main mission is to provide music for education, employment and enjoyment, special emphasis is placed on broadening the educational opportunity for young people, children and women. In addition the DCMA is currently seeking accreditation to become the main teaching centre for teaching music in East and Central Africa.

The Academy has registered 1204 students since its inception and currently has 70 actively registered students. The academic curriculum offers a quality education from beginners level to highly advanced students at Certificate and Diploma levels, both courses of which are taught and lead by Professor Mitchel Strumpf from the University of Dar es Salaam who will be a full time, permanent Academic Director from July 2014.

Since its beginnings in 2003 the DCMA has been training its students to be professional musicians and teachers and over 50% of music teachers DCMA have been trained from its student population.

Whilst the central aim of DCMA is to preserve and promote the musical heritage of Zanzibar and the Dhow regions in more recent years it has introduced global musical genres in both education and performance to expand the musical and cultural repertoire. The DCMA has gained an ever increasing international reputation for teaching music and proudly won the Roskilde Award in October 2010 for teaching traditional music.

The expansion from traditional music to global music is an exciting development and in its endeavours to bring the best teachers to further this programme a list of committed, professional, international volunteer visitors come regularly to deliver an impressive variety of music programmes. With this intermingling of instruments and styles the DCMA has a variety of diverse bands and musicians who play not only Taarab but Afro- Arab fusion, Jazz, Reggae, Hip Hop and more. In addition special workshops, seminars, concerts, exchange visits and networking activities take place throughout the year and the DCMA has developed into a vibrant national and international musical and cultural meeting point.

How Can I join DCMA?

Everyone from 5 years of age onwards can become a student. For beginners admission is non-conditional on Preparatory-level, but if you want to start on a higher level it will require an interview.

Which instruments does DCMA offer?

Though specializing on traditional Arabic and African musical styles of the region, DCMA also gives you the opportunity to learn instruments used in Western music. Among the instruments taught are Oud, Qanun, Violin, Cello, Guitar, Bass, Piano/ Keyboard /Organ, Percussion (Ngoma, Drum set), Brass, Transverse flute and Accordion. Other subjects offered include Voice, Elementary Music Theory.

There are a number of school orchestras here at DCMA you could join. DCMA has Voice classes (Taarab only), Taarab ensembles and Western bands on various levels, as well as Ngoma, Kidumbaki and Traditional Drumming classes. A number of extra curricular activities like workshops, seminars, performances and exhibitions supplement our school program. DCMA is also involved in student exchange programs

What Are the Cost?

DCMA offers music lessons for minimum costs. After a one-time admission fee, students have to pay a monthly tuition fee for their instrument only. Enrolled students get 45 minutes weekly individual lesson. Group lessons, which are free of charge for the instrument students are 1h 30m. DCMA students may come to the school to practice by themselves.

Where can I find DCMA?

The DCMA is situated on the waterfront close to Malindi Port. Visitors are warmly invited to visit the school any time between 9 am - 6 pm to listen to music, enjoy the view from the balcony and meet some of the musicians.