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, hosho, singing, dance, drumming and mixed ensemble, as well as a variety of cultural presentations.

Workshop Skill Levels

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 note that the workshop descriptions identify some Beginning marimba classes as reserved for true beginners, so that those who register can feel comfortable knowing they will be in a supportive environment with people who are at their same level. For the remaining Beginning workshops, we request that any non-beginner registrants participate from the perspective of a beginner and hold any more advanced questions until the end of the workshop.

Please use the following guidelines to identify the skill level appropriate to each workshop. This is most relevant to workshops in marimba and mbira:

  • Beginning – For students who have never touched the instrument to those with less than a year of experience.
  • Novice (formerly 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 – Students who have played the instrument for at least three years AND can learn parts relatively easily. This includes marimba students who have a basic understanding of African rhythm, have played mbira songs on marimba and can catch musical cues. For mbira, students who 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.

Workshop Changes

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.

Marimbas with and without F#s

Many of you are aware that the Zimbabwean marimbas designed at the Kwanongoma College of Music in Bulawayo were basically in the key of C major with F#s included in order to play in the key of G as well. There are a number of teachers and bands within our community that use marimbas without F#s. We understand that for students used to these marimbas, instruments with F#s can be confusing. If any of the individuals who are teaching this year have requested marimbas without F#s, we will provide soprano and tenor marimbas without F#s in at least one workshop room, to be designated in the workshop descriptions (most baritone and bass marimbas are made without F#s ).

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 (other than 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 or British 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 School of Visual, Performing and Design Arts at Oregon State University, 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 “by donation” 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 in this situation at future festivals.

Children’s Workshops

There are no workshops targeted towards children in 2023.

Note to Parents: Children ages 7 and under must have an adult attend the workshop with them. Both parent and child must register, but payment will only be required for the child. If you want to register a child aged 7 years and under along with an accompanying parent, please write to for a coupon code waiving the workshop fee for the parent.

We ask that parents and other adults participate from a child’s perspective, and please hold any adult questions until the end of the workshop. 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.

Instruments Needed for Workshops

We are asking for everyone’s help in getting enough instruments together for all our workshops. Marimbas, mbiras, drums and hosho are needed. We will have a locked room where instruments can be stored safely. Volunteers will help us coordinate their use. Using borrowed instruments, Zimfest provides each marimba workshop room with a “standard” set of three sopranos, two tenors, bass and baritone marimbas, plus an additional soprano or tenor as a bonus instrument.

If you are able to provide any of these instruments or have additional questions, please contact .

If you enroll in an mbira class, please bring an mbira in the same tuning as the class being offered if you have one. Mbira tunings commonly taught in workshops are: high nyamaropa (Erica workshop tuning), Magaya standard, G tuning and gandanga (mavembe). Karimba (nyunga nyunga) and matepe workshops may also be offered. While the festival strives to provide some mbira-s for workshops, there is always a need for more.

Workshop Cancellation and Refund 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 23rd, 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 registration starts through July 25th, students may register for any open workshops, drop workshops or transfer to other workshops.
  5. After July 25th 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 (such as a different teacher). During onsite registration at the festival, students may transfer to another workshop as long as the workshop they are transferring out of has five or more students remaining.
  6. Once a student has registered and paid for a workshop during online 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 available at onsite Registration. This form must be submitted by August 25th in order to be considered for a refund.