The following is a list of workshops that are both fun and educational and can be geared to practically any age. Many of the workshops can be taught using recycled or “reuse” materials.

The Mbira Workshop

Crafting and Tuning of the African Mbira taught by Kevin Nathaniel. The mbira is an ancient African instrument which is played with the thumbs and/or fingers, according to particular technique.

It consists of a box-shaped sound board to which several keys are attached. As the keys are struck, their vibrations produce sounds that are similar to those of the piano or guitar. Because of the calming, enchanting sound of the instrument, the mbira continues to win the hearts of peoples of all nations. It is truly an instrument of peace. Using a few simple tools, some basic materials and a little love and care, mbira making and playing can be a truly inspirational experience for music lovers of all ages and levels of technical skill.

The Workshop

Workshops are tailored for a variety of age groups and musical ability. All tools and materials can be provided by the instructor. In each workshop students will craft, tune, and learn basic playing technique. Each student can be sure at the end of the workshop that they will have a working mbira of lasting beauty to enjoy.

The Nyungwe Nyungwe (or Karimba)

Mbira Workshop
This is one of the most ancient mbiras of Africa, dating back more than 1,500 years. It is believed by many in the field to be the root of many mbira styles in Africa. This workshop is for building a professional instrument, and is more suited for adults or teens. The workshop requires a minimum of five sessions, each lasting 4 hours.

The Eight Key Mbira Workshop
Construct a beautiful eight-key mbira, also known as kalimba. This workshop is recommended a residency of 4 to 5 sessions, each lasting at least one hour. Please contact Kevin Nathaniel to inquire about tailoring the workshop to your needs.

Other workshops...

Rattle Construction

Make the African caxixi or kesse kesse rattle. Students will construct a pair of rattles from paper supplies. The workshop lasts from 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Materials are provided by the instructor. Playing technique will be taught.

Drum Construction (from re-use materials)

Students construct drums from either recycled cans or paper products. The workshop lasts from 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Materials are provided by the instructor. Be prepared to do some drumming at the end!

Leg Rattle Construction

Create leg rattles for rhythmic dancing. Using recycled film containers, students construct leg rattles which will dramatically accent their steps. The workshop requires 2 or 3 hours.

Shekere Construction

Learn to make and play the shekere (beaded gourd rattle) using balloons and plaster wrap or paper maché. The workshop requires 5 sessions, 2 hours each, and is limited to 12 people. Playing technique will be taught.

New How-To Books

Announcing my series of instrument making How-To books, all comprising one book called CREATIVE INSTRUMENT MAKING. The book is self published and is packed with information on making instruments. It is geared for teachers and for students with many tips on reuse and recycling. It has been used by several schools already to get the entire school community involved in instrument making.

  • Booklet 1: Mbira Making (kalimba)
  • Booklet 2: Caxixi Making
  • Booklet 3: Shekere Making (recycled/reuse)
  • Booklet 4: Marimba Making (recycle/reuse)
  • Booklet 5: Drum Making (recycle/reuse)
  • Booklet 6: Rain Stick Making (recycle/reuse)

Contact us to purchase a copy of any one of the booklets at $30/each.