MBIRA Activities

3rd Graders at Nueva School learn mbira from Erica Azim
3rd Graders at Nueva School learn mbira from Erica Azim

The activities of the MBIRA non-profit organization include:

Mbira instruction

Offer mbira instruction in the formats of private lessons (including over Skype and FaceTime), weekend intensive workshops, and one-week residential Mbira Camps for adults and teens.

Teach and perform Zimbabwean traditional music at K-12 schools and universities.

Recording 86-year old Ambuya Botsa, lead singer of Tangai Chinyakare, in 2010
Recording 86-year old Ambuya Botsa, lead singer of Tangai Chinyakare, in 2010

MBIRA recordings library

Record, process and catalog a library of recordings of traditional Shona music, and make these recordings available to the public through sales of recordings to universities and individuals. Proceeds of the sale of each recording go to the Zimbabwean musicians who performed on each recording ($12 goes to the musicians, $7 to MBIRA’s expenses, $1 to payment processing, as compared to $1 to the musicians on a typical commercial recording).

Instrument sales

Obtain mbiras from Zimbabwean instrument makers for mbira students and universities. Proceeds go to the instrument maker, though MBIRA has a $50 mark-up which covers our expenses to tune and maintain mbiras after arrival in the US, and do the bookkeeping. The instruments are often in poor condition after traveling 10,000 miles through the mail in marginal packing materials, so fixing them up is an important part of what we do.

Chinhoyi High School #2 students playing mbiras donated by MBIRA, with Erica Azim 2014
Chinhoyi High School #2 students playing mbiras donated by MBIRA in 2009, with Erica Azim in 2014

Organize mbira tours

Sponsor and organize tours by Shona mbira players, including visa sponsorship and soliciting targeted donations for this purpose. Support US tours by additional Shona mbira players by organizing concerts and workshops and publicizing them.

Donate mbiras to Zimbabwean schools

Support mbira education in Zimbabwe by donating instruments to Zimbabwean schools where mbira players we know are willing to volunteer as mbira teachers.

Mbira study in Zimbabwe

Provide help to students traveling to Zimbabwe to study traditional music, including information on music teachers, lodging, transportation, etc.

Hernan Gulla & Pablo Paz practicing mbira in Leonard Chiyanike’s village