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Djembe Masterclass with Sidiki Dembele

16 November 2020

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If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the power of the arts to connect us to each other, and last week our Percussion students had an amazing opportunity to come together through the power of the djembe.

Sidiki Dembele is a multi-instrumentalist but his heart lies with this ancient West African drum, the djembe. He led an inspirational and emotional masterclass – bringing the full percussion dept together for the first time since lockdown began in March.

‘Sidiki’s class was eye opening. He lives and breathes the Djembe and treated us with nothing but kindness and respect,’ said percussionist Mary Johnson.

‘We learnt so much about his culture and ancestry and were taught skills that will not only help us be better djembe players, but better musicians and people.’

‘Djembe has a special place in percussionists’ lives as it the earliest percussion instrument known to man and is still so relevant in the world percussion stage,’ explained fellow percussion student Isaac Cortvriend.

‘It was a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I can’t begin to describe how this man’s mind and soul is completely one and the same with his djembe. How incredibly humble he was and how rich and deep his culture ran with all aspects of family and music was an absolute inspiration.’

‘Throughout the day we learned the Djembe players roll in four traditional West African dances, each with their own accompanying rhythms, breaks and calls. We’d build them up and then have a long session where we play through all the dance!

The fact that Sidiki was so willing to share and surround us with all his family heritage and passion made the day feel very special. In some ways it felt like a mental break from the rest of our busy lives, as when we were fully in the groove we could forget about everything else!’

‘It really was one of my musical highlights to witness Sidiki’s playing.’
Patrick King, Head of Percussion

We welcomed Sidiki back to the College – he came last year, performing and giving workshops as part of the Manchester Collective.

Sept 2019: Sidiki holds a spontaneous calabash tutorial with our first-year Music students

You can follow Sidiki on his website,, and find out more about our studying Percussion at the College here.

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