Zimbabwean Marimba Classes in Santa Cruz, California

Have you seen exciting marimba music somewhere around the Santa Cruz area? Try it out for yourself. Larry Israel teaches ongoing group lessons on a full ensemble of seven marimbas — soprano to bass marimba. Classes meet once a week at the Kuzanga marimba studio near the main entrance to UCSC. Come have fun playing in a marimba class!

Introductory classes usually begin only once a year. Each class includes 6 to 9 students who begin at the same time, learning pieces and moving forward together as a group. Each student can continue for as long as they want into the future or can drop out at any time (preferably at the end of a quarterly session). Fairly regular attendance is important so that the group can learn pieces quickly and enjoy the full marimba ensemble experience.

Students can pay for one class at a time, or save money by paying for the full fall session. Single classes are $12 each. The fall session of 7 classes is available for $63, which can be paid half at the first class and half at the 4th class. We encourage you to participate in the full series of classes because the continuity is great for the group.

For further information or to enroll, please phone 831-458-2355
or email lisrael@cruzio.com or AngelaM@aol.com.

We look forward to playing music with you,

— Larry & Angela

Hapana Marimba Ensemble   Teen Marimba Ensemble
Several of Larry’s marimba students performed for the first time on August 17, 2002, at the Pescadero Arts & Fun Festival. [more photos] The teen marimba class performed twice in late-August, 2002. [more photos]

Larry's Bio

Larry Israel studied and performed with Dumisani “Dumi” Maraire from 1977 to 1982 and was a member of several outstanding Seattle-based marimba ensembles: Dumi and the Maraire Marimba Ensemble (1978-1982), Kutamba (1982-1989), Musango (1990-1995), and Muchadura (1996-1997). He has taught Zimbabwean marimba since 1986, first in Seattle and now in Santa Cruz since moving here in 1997.

Larry’s marimba teaching is based primarily on what he learned from Dumisani Maraire, the talented and charismatic musician who first brought Zimbabwean music to the United States. Dumi was the inspiration and source from which Zimbabwean marimba has spread around the Pacific Northwest and western North America. Larry gained a deep understanding of Shona music from his experiences working closely and performing for many years with Dumisani Maraire, Mai Chi Maraire, Claire Jones, Michael Breez, Sooja Kelsey, Stephen Golovnin and others.

Larry feels it is important to share his knowledge of Shona music with the Santa Cruz community, especially given Dumi’s untimely death in 1999. Larry has been a member of Kuzanga Marimba since 1998. His wife Angela Marie coordinates some logistical aspects of his marimba classes.


Kuzanga Marimba performs around the Santa Cruz area. If you would like to receive email announcements of Kuzanga Marimba performances, drop a note to list@kuzanga.com and ask to subscribe to our email list.

Sadza is a marimba and mbira band based in Santa Cruz County.

Dandemutande is an Internet resource devoted to the music and culture of Zimbabwe, giving special attention to traditional music as performed on mbira and marimba. The Dandemutande web site includes a mail order catalog, a resource guide, magazine articles, and archives of the listserve. The Dandemutande Listserve serves as an important means of communication among players of Zimbabwean music around the world.

MBIRA is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to educate the public regarding traditional Shona music of Zimbabwe, develop a library of recordings to preserve that music, and ensure that Shona music activities outside Zimbabwe benefit Zimbabwean musicians and instrument makers. Dozens of excellent field recordings of mbira music are for sale on the MBIRA web site, with all proceeds going to the musicians in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean Music Festival is the largest annual gathering of Zimbabwean music players in North America.

R & B Marimbas sells quality, hand-crafted Zimbabwean-style marimbas to the Santa Cruz community and beyond. The owner, marimba builder Rob Moeller can be reached at 831-423-9161 or rob@skyhighway.com.

Joe Keefe is a local long-time marimba player. He has built and repaired many marimbas and is happy to help people learn to build them. You can contact him at 831-336-2518 or jo4e@actuald.com.

For those already studying marimba, when you’re ready to delve deeper into Shona music, I have some recommendations:

  1. Listen to Shona music! Buy some recordings and absorb the music by listening. Listen to a variety of Zimbabwean artists and musical styles — at least marimba, mbira, and guitar. Dance to it too (Dumi used to say “If you don’t dance to this music, you don’t really understand it”). Two excellent sources of recordings are Dandemutande and MBIRA (the non-profit org).
  2. Go to Zimfest to get inspired, learn from Zimbabwean teachers, and connect with the huge community of marimba and mbira players.
  3. Study and learn to play the mbira. Two excellent mbira teachers live in the San Francisco Bay Area: Erica Azim and Russ Landers.
  4. Read “The Soul of Mbira,” by Paul Berliner. This is a good book about Shona mbira music. It’s widely available in paperback.