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  The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. - William Arthur Ward  
Mike, your teaching on the first day was an excellent and informative introduction to the Djembe. The philosophy with which you encouraged us to play the djembe was inspiring and made me totally relax and enjoy the experience. I remember you saying that you were worried that people didn't want to come to Africa and be taught by a non-African. I certainly didn't cause a problem for me. It was very useful to have your input and tips on technique. You must be half-African by now anyway!
Libon, continued the positive experience for us. Although a man of little words when teaching, his almost psychic approach meant everything seem to flow hypnotically and just by watching him
After a few days I have to admit to questioning the learning of just one rhythm a week, however after talking this over with you I was able to understand more why this was done and realise that this was the best way. I certainly feel that without having done this I would not be able to retain the rhythms or play them as confidently as I could after 6 days teaching.
Having travelled to Gunjur for our second week and experienced the teaching of the 'Master Drummer' there made us realise even more clearly the quality of teaching at Drum Culture.
I like to make an extra special mention to Ibru on the Dundun's. His constant enthusiasm and broad smile added to the whole experience. It was great that he was able to teach some of the Dundun rhythms as well. - Jon Spinks, Hungary

I just wanted to say thank you for everything. It was by far the best holiday I've ever had, and a completely life changing experience! Coming to West Africa alone for the first time was quite daunting, but from the moment you met me at the airport, you made me feel completely safe and at ease. The drumming was wonderful, I can't believe how much I learned in such a short time.

I continue to be amazed by how many leaps forward my drumming has taken since I got back from staying with you. Its getter better every time I play - I can really understand what you meant about it taking a few weeks to bed in. I can't wait to come back next year and take it further!

- Anna Coughlin

Thanks for a fabulous week  - although I'm only a beginner at West African drumming, I learned so much during that short time and I came away with a great sense of achievement. I lived among real Gambians for the week and sampled genuine West African food and hospitality. Mike and Di were great company and able to answer any question I asked about life in The Gambia, so I felt totally relaxed throughout the week.

It really was a privilege to be taught by a master musician like Labon, yet his friendly, unassuming and easy-going nature put me instantly at ease. I really felt I'd improved over the week and I think Labon took great pleasure in seeing my technique develop.

If you want to immerse yourself in West African music and culture, I can thoroughly recommend a holiday with Drumculture. Whether you are a beginner like me or an experienced drummer, you will be well catered for. I will certainly come again!' – Des Bowring


We have returned from our Drumculture 'holiday' in the Gambia as much wiser people. Having spent 2 weeks completely submerged in the African culture, we have learned so much. This included 4 hours drumming each day being taught by a master drummer called Libon Traore. He is a Susu from Guinea. Not only a fantastic musician, he is also a brilliant teacher. Drumculture was set up by Mike and Di Armstrong. Mike himself is a great teacher and is able to bridge the gap between European drumming and culture and that of Africa in a very enabling way. We could not offer a higher recommendation for living and breathing Africa to all of you who love African drumming and the African people. – Geoff & Di, Kaya Drums


After one week of drumming I attended a drum camp weekend in Norfolk. This is where I first met Mike, Lewis and Di. My first impression was of a warm enthusiastic family who clearly loved African Drumming and dance. Over the past year I have attended workshops given by Mike and Lewis and was impressed with the way they taught together - a progressive approach which inspires and motivates leaving their audience with the tools to play the Djembe with more confidence than when they first entered the room.

To play an instrument requires endless hours of practice and dedication but to teach an instrument to others requires double the patience, understanding and comprehension of different learning styles. Mike has this quality which he has clearly passed onto Lewis. Thanks to you both for giving me so much inspiration - Sue Perry


I had spent several years taking lessons from different teachers, both in the Gambia and in the UK, and just seemed to be 'drifting along'. Then I met Libon; he taught me 'the music', and all of the playing, rhythms, tempo and technique that I had learnt before finally started to make sense. Libon is a patient, understanding and extremely knowledgeable teacher who gave me the confidence to play alongside professional African drummers.

His knowledge of the traditions surrounding the playing of the drum is fascinating and enlightening. Thank you Libon for taking me to new levels! - Michael

  Remember your favourite lecturer at college, the guy that could keep your attention for 2 hours, without you realising you were actually being taught anything. you left the classroom smarter than you entered it, & wishing the next lecture was with him. Mike's approach to djembe teaching has captured this ethos, his enthusiasm is infectious, his ability to put into words what he is playing is second to none. - Nick Bedlow  
If you need inspiration to make you want to learn, Lewis brings it in bucket loads, he seems to possess instant re-call for rhythms, (often putting his dad right on some subtlety of a complex rhythm), coupled with a rhythmical understanding, as well as a sense of humour way beyond his years, if you subscribe to the concept of re-incarnation, this guy has been around at least once before as a djembe player - Nick Bedlow

Mike Armstrong - A  true master, talented, convincing, sincere, in command of his subject and class, dedicated in delivering simply, a feel for the spirit of African roots in touch  with the earth, in teaching the djembe rhythms. A sound knowledge and passion, along with a sense of humour producing enjoyment and fun, producing a relaxed, peaceful circle. This makes one feel good, united, playing the beautiful sounds - the drumming circle comfortably at one - Sue Mackey

Lewis Armstrong - A very talented percussionist with his father’s qualities delivered in Lewis’s unique cool way - Sue Mackey


Well I have been taught from the beginning when Mike started teaching and how lucky I was! Firstly to put so much effort into running a group and researching about drums, rhythms etc and passing on knowledge to us. We learned so many rhythms and we spent time on them until they they just come naturally. Mike makes you feel at ease and breaks the rhythms into parts so that anyone can learn. He is not just a teacher but inspires as well giving us some history behind the rhythms so helping us understand the music. We had a large group going and had many new people joining us and the atmosphere, the energy was brilliant and its thanks to Mike for getting the right balance of having fun and concentrating on the rhythms Some of the sessions were mind blowing.

As for Lewis he is a gifted player and really has no ego. He is very calm and attentive to individuals who need help. He is a wise young guy, and will sometimes go a bit further and teach solos and more complex parts of a rhythm so giving us a bit of a challenge. He will bring in new rhythms and again, like Mike break it down, but its this continuous learning of new rhythms that motivates people to go further and create this fabulous energy between the group.

They really put so much effort into the teaching and passing on these wonderful African rhythms so keeping the traditional music alive. Respect to them both. Will Luscombe.


If you feel embarrassed about getting things wrong and you are looking for a sympathetic yet skilled djembe teacher then you need Mike Armstrong. Without you realising it he will open up the joy of drumming to you. Without realising it you will learn excellent technique and complex rhythms, and you will be surprised at how much you have retained afterwards. Mike has a gentle way of teaching which I have not experienced before. His method of teaching encourages an exploration of self without the need to compete. Very refreshing. Thank you Mike for your teaching. Hyacinth

Lewis Armstrong has inherited his father's patience and understanding. A skilled drummer without a scrap of pride! Again with Lewis I have experienced learning without pressure within the group situation. Lewis has a thorough approach to the learning of technique and rhythm with is a grounding for anyone who wants to drum seriously. All this does not lose the sense of community and enjoyment found in his drum circles. Thank you Lewis for your teaching. Hyacinth

  Thank you to all of the people who have been kind enough to give us their feedback.  
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