what is dcma

Dhow Countries Music Academy is the only music school in Zanzibar. The academy preserves, develops and promotes the unique musical heritage of Zanzibar and the Swahili coast. It was established in 2002 and throughout the years it had more than 1500 students. DCMA is one the most prominent ambassadors of Zanzibar culture. 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 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. 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.

Particular emphasis is being placed on teaching traditional Zanzibar music styles, such as taarab, kidumbak or ngoma. 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. In more recent years it has introduced global musical genres in both education and performance to expand the musical and cultural repertoire. 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.

Music Education

The curriculum of DCMA offers a quality education from beginning to highly advanced levels. Certificate and diploma courses include courses in the music theory of the Swahili people and specifically the people of Zanzibar and the ‘Dhow Countries’, i.e. Oriental-Arabic music.

Though specializing in the traditional Arabic and African music styles of the region, DCMA also gives the opportunity to students to learn instruments used in Western music traditions.

Additionally, the DCMA provides special seminars, exchange visits and networking activities throughout the year, e.g., the conference “Memory, Power and Knowledge in African Music and Beyond” in June 2015, presented in cooperation with the Universities of Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa and Mainz and Hildesheim in Germany.


Outreach Educational Activities

In addition to its activities in Stone Town, Zanzibar, the DCMA started a rural outreach program to respond to requests of rural communities to bring music education and music performance skills to more remote locations. This is especially true for those areas where small traditional instrument groups continue to exist and struggle to survive. Mahonda, a small village about 25 km outside of Stone Town is a branch of the Dhow Countries Music Academy. DCMA activities in Mahonda are targeted to people who already have some skills in music, enabling them to pass on their knowledge to others on a continuous basis. Successful students are invited to come to the DCMA in Stone Town for full-time studies leading towards certificate and diploma qualifications.


Activities ­- bands

DCMA music groups of students and teachers are regularly performing in Zanzibar, enriching Zanzibar’s cultural life through regular concerts and performances in clubs and restaurants. The DCMA offers Zanzibar residents and tourists taarab concerts, Afro Kabisa concerts, live Afro-Fusion music with jazz, funk, afro-beat and bongo-flava, as well as special concerts by international guest-musicians and public ngoma workshops.