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120 Morris St. Downtown Durham
Program: Grade: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Teli Shabu is a professional musician originally from Liberia, West Africa. Teli grew up in a family performance ensemble where art was a way of life. A Forward Promise Fellow, and an alumnus of the African American Dance Ensemble, Teli seeks to guide young people on the drummer’s path. Teli currently runs the TMOAR Drum Institute and The Magic of African Rhythm. He teaches and performs for all ages from toddlers to seniors throughout NC. ARTS-CURRICULUM INTEGRATION: (SOCIAL STUDIES) (MATH) (MUSIC) (CULTURAL)

Performance The Griot’s Gourd

GRADES: Pre-K, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, & 12

The melodic Kora and Balaphon are traditional storytelling instruments from Mali. These gourd instruments provide the soundtrack on a journey through West Africa’s geography, language, history, and culture. Students will sing, drum, and dance all along the way.

Max Participants: 400

Duration: 40-60 minutes

Special Requirements: See bottom of page.

Single Performance Fee-$975.00
Two Performances Fee- $1,438.00

Residency Active Rhythms & Life

GRADES: Pre-K, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, & 12

In Africa life moves to the beat. Make rhythm the soundtrack of YOUR life. Students will begin making noise on stick and hand drums. Through bodily kinesthetic rhythm and structured drumming, students realize rhythm is in us all.

Max Participants: 20

Duration: 45 minutes to 75 minutes per class/session. 4 days needed with each class/group for residency.

Special Requirements:
Large space away from quiet study areas, access to an electrical outlet.

Fee: $100.00 per hour/per class     

Residency Instrument Making Residency

GRADES: 3rd-12th grade

Talking Drum: This residency blends music, history, cultural studies, art, and a challenging craft. We will visit many countries and cultures that use this mysterious little drum and listen to their different styles of music. As we build our drums, we will also xplore Adinkra, an ancient African language of symbols. We will use Adinkra symbols to decorate our drums and tell our personal stories. Students will finish the residency with a real drum of their own.


Thumb Piano: Mbiras (thumb pianos) originated in Zimbabwe and have bee played for thosuands of years. Teli shares stories and cultural context for the instrument as well as his ingenious orginal design that translates this tradition to materials easily found locally. In this residency, students will build Mbiras and learn to play them! Each student will be guided in constructing a wooden box, decorating the box with paint, installing metal keys and tuning the instrument. The result is a real musical instrument that can be used to learn traditional songs, create original tunes, and plyay with others. This project spans math, science, geography, culture, visual art, and music. Students will finish the residency with an Mbira of their own.

Max Participants: 20

Duration: 5 days needed with each class/group for residency. Each session is 60-90 mins.

Special Requirements: Large space away from quiet study areas; access to an electrical outlet, access to water

Fee: $187.50 per instructional hour; $31.25 for prep (estimated 12 hours for up to 20 instruments); material fee variable depending on number of students and project type – approximately $25-50 per instrument.

“The Griot’s Gourd” Performance Special Requirements:

  • A cleared, open area with wooden dance floor or equivalent; space dimensions minimum of 25ft x 30ft.
  • 3 microphones with PA system, 2 with boom stands
  • 7 armless chairs
  • Back-stage dressing areas for women and men with 5 chairs
  • 1 hrs stage access for sound check, setup, etc. before we begin
  • 5 mins backstage cue before curtains open
  • TMOAR introduction made by the presenter
  • water bottles