About Workshops

Each year, Zimfest organizers strive to offer a wide selection of workshops in both instruments and skill level. This year is no exception and we are offering a whole array of workshops in marimba, mbira, dance, drumming, singing, guitar, hosho, games and presentations of various topics. In addition, this year Zimfest is continuing the tradition of offering specialized workshops for certain groups of people.

Workshop Skill Levels are established to limit difficulties for the teacher and the other students. Please refer to these guidelines:

  • Introductory/Beginner - For students who have never touched the instrument to those with less than a year experience.
  • Advanced Beginner - For students that have played the instrument for at least one year. For marimba, students that can play a couple of parts on at least five songs. For mbira, students 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.

There are also teachers who are here either on a visitor’s (B) visa or they are Canadian citizens that are visiting in 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 the university. Because Zimfest is being co-sponsored by the music department of Oregon State University, we are able to pay an honorarium to those teachers who are not US citizens and don’t have visas that allow them to earn money. Another stipulation of this special exception is that Zimfest is not allowed to charge a fee for these workshops. The honorarium that is being paid to these teachers, however, is equivalent to what other teachers are being paid.

Therefore, we ask that when registering for honorarium workshops 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 and some of the workshops are also appropriate for younger children who are accompanied by their parents. The workshops are in marimba, dance, drumming 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 themselves, please consider the child’s attention span and comfort level.

Advanced and Intermediate Teen Marimba Workshops

This year we are bringing back this popular series of workshops that are designed for advanced students from the ages of 13-18. These workshops are designed to be fast-paced, challenging and appealing to youth marimba players who tend to learn significantly faster than adult players in the advanced workshops offered at Zimfest. The series recognizes that advanced 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 in order to avoid slowing down the workshop.

Workshops taught by Groups

This year there are several bands/groups that are team teaching workshops. These groups are: Ruzivo Marimba, West Ave. Crew, Hokoyo, Chiroto, Mbira dzeMuninga and The Sissons. Except for one singing workshop, all the workshops are marimba. These workshops have been popular at past Zimfests because participants benefit from multiple teachers and more individual attention.

Music Educator Workshops

Zimfest 2011 will be offering Music Educator workshops again for both school teachers as well as marimba teachers who teach in their community. This series of workshops will provide music educators an opportunity to learn Zimbabwean songs, rhythmical games and marimba arrangements to add to their teaching curriculum. Workshops will be taught by experienced Zimbabwean and North American teachers who have successfully integrated this music into an ideal format for music education. In addition, many of these teachers have established multiple performing bands over the years and will be able to share their expertise.

This year, Zimfest will offer school teachers in the State of Oregon the possibility of obtaining Professional Development Units (PDUs). For those who wish to earn PDUs, please read the Music Educator Registration Instructions below and/or contact mailto:teachers@zimfest.org.

Music Educator Registration Instructions

  • Workshops that that have been designated as a Music Educator Workshop will contain a separate information box in the workshop description or you may search for these workshops under Music Educator Workshops.
  • Participants must check with their school district to verify that their selected workshops will qualify for PDUs.
  • Participants who seek PDUs may enroll in any/all of the music educator workshops and then apply for a certificate of participation from the music educator coordinator.
  • Please contact mailto:teachers@zimfest.org for help with registration and/or more information on any aspect of the music educator workshops.

Instruments needed for workshops

This year we are asking for everyone's help in getting enough instruments for all our workshops. Especially needed are drums and chipendani and if you have these instruments, please consider bringing them to the festival. We will have a locked storage room for instruments and volunteers who will be making sure that each workshop has everything it needs.

Also, please bring your mbiras with you to Zimfest. Mbira tunings being taught in workshops this year are: Nyamaropa (G, workshop high, and Standard or Cosmas), Gandanga (Mavimbe), and Dambatsoko. While the festival strives to provide some mbiras for workshops, there is always a need for more mbiras.

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

Workshop Cancellation Policy

This policy determines which workshops will be canceled 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 28, all workshops with less than minimum enrollment will be canceled. When workshops are cancelled with only one student enrolled, festival organizers will put the student in touch with the teacher to arrange a private lesson at Zimfest, if desired (not applicable for marimba workshops).

4. From the date that online pre-registration starts until July 28, students may register for any open workshops, drop workshops or transfer to other workshops.

5. From July 28 up to and 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 that 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 and 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, those students may apply for a refund by filling out the Refund Request Form. This form must be submitted by August 22 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