About Workshops

Each year, Zimfest organizers strive to offer a large selection of workshops at all skill levels. This year is no exception and we are offering a wide array of workshops in marimba, mbira, dance, drum, guitar, hosho and singing as well as language and cultural presentations.

Workshop Skill Levels are established to match students of similar abilities to each workshop. Zimfest workshops are short and focused. We have found that learning experiences can be hampered when students of widely differing abilities attend the same class. Please refer to these guidelines:

  • Introductory/Beginner - For students who have never touched the instrument to those with less than a year of experience.
  • Advanced Beginner - For students who have played the instrument for at least one year. For marimba, students who can play a couple of parts on at least five songs. For mbira, students who can play at least two songs.
  • Intermediate - For students who have played for at least three years. For marimba, students have a basic understanding of African rhythms, can catch musical cues and learn parts fairly easily. For Mbira, students know at least five songs and can play in the Kushaura and Kutsinhira positions.
  • Advanced - Those students who meet the intermediate criteria PLUS learn parts very quickly, have a strong sense of rhythm, and can play fast.

Workshops by Donation

Some Zimfest workshops are offered “by donation” instead of an hourly fee. The reason for doing this is to comply with US immigration law that deals with non-US citizens earning money in the US. We would like to explain this in some detail so that you will have a basis on which to decide how much to donate.

Some of our teachers who come from outside the US are here on working visas sponsored by US organizations (but not Zimfest Association) and these visas allow them to earn money while in the US. Obtaining these visas is difficult, time consuming and costly, but it does allow Zimfest to charge a fee for the workshops taught by these non-US citizens.

We also have teachers who are either on a visitor’s (B) visa or are Canadian citizens visiting the US. These individuals are not allowed to earn money while in the US, with one specific exception. This exception states that a teacher may be paid an honorarium by a US college or university for teaching/lecturing while at that university. Because Zimfest is being co-sponsored by the music department of the University of Idaho, we are able to pay an honorarium to those teachers who are not US citizens and do not have visas that allow them to charge for workshops. Another stipulation of this special exception is that Zimfest is also not allowed to charge a fee for these workshops. The honorarium being paid to these teachers is equivalent to what our other teachers are being paid.

We, therefore, ask that, when registering for honorarium workshops, you please donate the same hourly amount of money that would be paid for other workshops. Doing so will ensure that Zimfest will be able to offer workshops by these teachers at future festivals.

Children’s Workshops

These workshops are specifically designed for young people from the ages of 8-12. Some may be appropriate for younger children who are accompanied by their parents. The workshops are in marimba, dance, and games.

Note to parents: Children ages 7 and under must have an adult attend the workshop with them. Both parent and child must register and pay for the class. Children 8 and over are welcome to register for any Zimfest workshop provided they meet the prerequisites and playing level for the class. If you register a child to attend a workshop by him/herself, please consider the child’s attention span and comfort level.

Teen Marimba Workshops

This series of workshops is designed for ages of 13-18. These workshops are fast-paced, challenging and appealing to youth marimba players who tend to learn significantly faster than many adult players. The series recognizes that youth marimba players require a different environment that not only accommodates their skill level but also is filled with their peers.

Note to parents: Before enrolling your children in this series, please talk with their regular marimba teachers to verify that they will be able to handle the level of difficulty in these workshops. Participants who enroll in the Advanced Teen Marimba series but do not meet the criteria will be asked to observe so as to not encumber the class.

Workshops Taught by Groups

This year, there are two bands - Chigwaya and West Ave. Crew - and two pairs of teachers - Martha Thom & Jacob Mafuleni and Maria Minnaar-Bailey & Val Rogers - who are team teaching workshops. These workshops have been popular at past Zimfests because participants benefit from multiple teachers and more individual attention.

Music Educator Workshops

The facilitator for Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA) Continuing Clock Hours for Zimfest is Jacqueline Fallon. There is no charge for WMEA members for receiving clock hours. Non-members must pay a $5.00 registration fee plus $1.00 per clock hour earned. Educators must see Jacqueline to fill in their contact information on the WMEA Registration List and pick up a registration packet. It is the participant’s responsibility to mail in the registration packet to the address provided. You may earn up to 37 clock hours during Zimfest 2012.

Out of state educators may also collect a packet to acquire a signature for clock hours, but it is a good idea to get the clock hours pre-approved by your school district.

For more information contact Zimfest.

Instruments Needed for Workshops

We are asking for everyone's help in getting enough instruments together for all our workshops. Marimbas, mbiras and hosho are needed. We will have a locked room where instruments can be stored safely. Volunteers will help us coordinate their use.

If you are able to provide any of these instruments or have additional questions, please contact mailto:teachers@zimfest.org.

Also, if you enroll in an mbira class, please bring an mbira if you have one. Mbira tunings being taught in workshops this year are: Nyamaropa (G, workshop high, and Standard or Cosmas), Gandanga (Mavembe), Dambatsoko and Njari. Nyunga nyunga workshops are also being offered. While the festival strives to provide some mbiras for workshops, there is always a need for more.

Workshop Cancellation Policy

This policy determines which workshops will be cancelled before the festival due to low enrollment as well as the rules for participants receiving refunds, dropping workshops or transferring to different workshops.

1. Minimum enrollment for all workshops (except marimba) is 2 students.

2. Minimum enrollment for marimba workshops is 3 students.

3. On July 26th, all workshops with less than minimum enrollment will be cancelled. When workshops are cancelled with only one student enrolled, festival organizers will put the student, if desired, in touch with the teacher to arrange a private lesson at Zimfest (not applicable for marimba workshops.)

4. From the date that online pre-registration starts through July 26th, students may register for any open workshops, drop workshops or transfer to other workshops.

5. After July 26th, including during the festival, students are not allowed to drop or transfer to another workshop unless the workshop they are enrolled in has been significantly changed by the festival organizers (different teacher, for example.)

6. Once a student has registered and paid for a workshop during online pre-registration, no refund will be given if the student chooses to drop that workshop. Instead, the student will receive a credit equal to the cost of the workshop which can be applied towards other purchases made on the Zimfest website prior to or during the festival.

7. For any workshop that the festival organizers cancel or significantly change, credit will be given to the students enrolled in that workshop. That credit may be used to take other workshops at the festival. If the credit has not been used by the end of the festival, students may apply for a refund by filling out the Refund Request Form. This form must be submitted by August 20th in order to be considered for a refund.


Any new information and/or changes to workshops will be posted on the Zimfest website. All workshops and schedules are subject to change so make sure to check the web site frequently. View Festival Updates