The Dhow Countries Music Academy (DCMA) was established in 2002 as a community, not-forprofit, non-governmental project to teach the music of Zanzibar and the other locations of the “dhow countries”. It currently has an active student enrollment of over 100 students and a teaching and administrative staff of 10 full-time and 10 part-time members.

Zanzibar has existed as a maritime cross-road, rooted with centuries of interaction between cultures of the East African coast and the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf, India and the Far East. Dhows, small commercial sailing/fishing boats sailed across the Indian Ocean and brought the cultures of the ‘dhow countries’ into contact with one another.
Examples of this creative music blending is taarab beni, kidumbak and ngoma, all reflecting great cultural diversity.

The DCMA specializes in teaching the diverse music traditions of this region and providing opportunities to preserve and develop intangible heritage by offering educational and vocational training as well as job opportunities to successful students as Academy teachers and staff.

In addition, the DCMA promotes the contemporary, offering opportunities for students to learn and perform the current music styles of Tanzania, other parts of Africa and other parts of the World. With Zanzibar being a major tourist location, opportunities are offered at DCMA for visitorsto hear the older as well as the newer music traditions of the area.
Our students and teachers perform regularly at DCMA and in Zanzibar hotels, clubs and restaurants.

Music Studies at the Academy
Many of the students in the DCMA Certificate and Diploma programs pursue a career in Music. The Academy provides music instruments to the students, as well as music
recordings, films, and books as part of their library service. Student ensembles in taarab, beni and kidumbak, regional concerts, workshops and master classes, seminars,
exchanges and partnership programs support the regular music curriculum.

At DCMA, students have private and class tuition on music instrument and singing traditions of Zanzibar, the mainland of Tanzania and the dhow countries. Western music traditions are also taught as theyappear as part of the contemporary dance music scenes, and violin, double bass and cello are part of the traditional taarab and other folk ensembles of the dhow countries.

The effort of DCMA is vital in encouraging young musicians to study both their own traditions and a fusion of traditions and instill a high level of excellence, creativity and pride.

Fees for local students are minimal and scholarships are frequently provided to support especially talented individuals.


As part of its strategy to take music lessons to school children of all ages to fulfill its objective of early childhood training,  DCMA is running a schools program currently taking place at 4 private schools in Zanzibar. The basic music education program for school children that features teaching basic music theory, songs   &   dance as well as fun games.
In the course of one year children in mostly nursery or lower primary levels are led through this musical journey with the aim of stimulating their young minds while at the same time opening up opportunities for some of them who will become interested to take up music training at the Academy.

For the public schools, due to lack of time within the government curriculum, continous lessons in music could not be set up and so in its place educational concerts designed to introduce the idea of music education as well as cultural awareness. So far this year, nursery and lower primary pupils from a total of 1 school from in and around Stonetown are been taught. The specific objectives of the program in schools are :-
• To provide children with an opportunity to receive basic music training
• To increase awareness of cultural background in relation to African music
• To foster a sense of cultural identity and belonging


There a lot of musical club all over the Islands, but they face a lot of problem. Not enough good instruments are available and the musician have no formal music education. And due to transport and financial problems most of the musicians in rural areas do not benefit from DCMA´s school program. To reach also these DCMA developed a rural Outreach Program in 2005. In Mahonda (about 30Km North of Town) DCMA works together with the Taarab group KIKI (Kizazi Kipya, Meaning ´New Generation´). After extensive renovations of their club house, DCMA opened its first branch there in December 2006. Regular classes are held in guitar, oud, qanun, violin, drums and voice.

Since 2005 several workshop were held in Pemba. Up to 12 Musicians from different music clubs met at the children´s park Tibirinzi. They called themselves "Tibirinzi Allstars" and lived, learned and played music together for up to three weeks.
Both groups performed at the "Sauti za Busara" Festival in 2008.


The one-year BASIC TECHNICIAN CERTIFICATE IN MUSIC (NTA LEVEL 4) offers opportunities for students to learn to effectively express themselves through the use of their musical voices and music instruments and make available opportunities for learning and sharing knowledge in the music heritages of Tanzania and other parts of Africa and the world. There is a focus on music performance, both as a solo musician and as a member of a music ensemble, performance abilities that may lead to employment as a professional musician or teacher of music instruments or voice. There is also a focus on the academic side of music that includes a study of Music Theory (knowing the concepts and terms in music composing and analysis) and the skills of teaching Music at a primary school level. As is necessary in most academic endeavors in the 21st century, there is also a focus on improving the student’s communication skills, ability in English and ability with the use of computers.

Students will be admitted into the BASIC TECHNICIAN CERTIFICATE IN MUSIC (NTA LEVEL 4) program with 4 Secondary School passes or the successful passing of the 2-year VTA General Music Certificate offered at DCMA (VTA LEVEL 3) that has as its basic structure thelearning of concepts and skills required for a smooth and effective entrance into the Certificate course proposed here (NTA LEVEL 4).

The BASIC TECHNICIAN CERTIFICATE IN MUSIC (NTA LEVEL 4) program has 14 courses, 7 in each of two 15-week semesters. It is
structured with a ‘Competence-Based Education and Teaching’ (CBET) focus. At the forefront of the teaching program is the practical training aspect of music learning, with a focus towards vocational training and income generation for self-sustainability in Tanzania. The program has a ‘hands-on’ approach where the student is, from the very start, doing while learning. This approach is combined with ‘minds-on’ and‘hearts-on’ approaches, whereconcepts and skills are learned and intellectualized, discussed and analyzed (‘minds-on) as well as ‘felt’ through the students’emotional involvement (hearts-on). The realities of being a musician in Tanzania, especially the economic realities a musician in Tanzania faces (music for income generation) are under one large umbrella of concern, constantly being considered in the Program.


The specific objectives of this Program (NTA 4) are that, upon finishing the Program students will have competence to:

a)     Perform, on music instruments and/or vocally, as soloists and in music ensembles the music traditions of especially Zanzibar, other areas of Tanzania, other areas of Africa and
other locations of the ‘dhow countries’;

b)     Describe and be conversant with aspects of the elements of music;

c)     Analyze music works, especially the works of Zanzibar, other areas of Tanzania, other areas of Africa and other areas of the ‘dhow countries’region;

d)     Communicate musical ideas well with others;

e)     Employ ICT for broadening their knowledge in music and many other areas of study;

f)      Fill the significant gaps in the job market that require well-qualified musicians, communicators in the areas of music performance, Music Theory (music composition), and Music Education, especially teaching in primary schools and ‘music in the community’endeavors).

Term dates: Term 1 September - February
Term 2 February - AugustThe DCMA is closed during
RamadhanFees:Local students: 800,000Tsh per annum
Foreign students: $600 per annum