About Mark Barfoot


I am based near Durham in North East England, UK

I teach 3 weekly classes in Newcastle and Durham and a monthly all-day class on Teeside. I also run study days and drumming weekends throughout the year.

I offer drumming workshops for organisations big and small, community groups, schools, youth groups, families and private lessons.

I work with other musicians and dancers to offer drumming and dance packages and also songs from W Africa. I give talks and presentations which can provide material for school assemblies, cover material from the national curriculum (eg citizenship or geography) as well as cultural diversity training for organisations.

I have a Diploma in Higher Education (Life-long learning) – which is a 2 year teacher training course completed in 2008.

I am a tutor for the WEA (Workers Education Association) which offers a great range of adult education courses which are very affordable. Check out www.wea.org.uk for details of current courses. The goal of WEA is to make education affordable and accessible to all and for people to be life long learners.

Full details are on the course information tab on the menu screen

I have been playing West African drumming rhythms for 12 years. I have been to Senegal, Gambia and 2 trips to Guinea to study drumming – the last 3 trips with Nansady Keita (Nephew of Famoudou Konate). I have been teaching regular classes since 2006.

I came to drumming as a guitarist who wanted to play more with other people and learn more about rhythm. Music is a shared activity and drumming is a very direct way of opening up your creativity, being part of something exciting and powerful and its loads of fun. Its very accessible and people quickly participate and engage in the session. Like many musical forms, there is also a lifetime’s worth of study and depth to explore.

I teach traditional rhythms from West Africa. Most of what I teach comes from Nansady Keita, a djembefola (master) from the village of Sangbarella in the Republic of Guinea. Nansady teaches rhythms from his ethnic group – the Malinke and his region, Hamana.

Many of the rhythms are used in ceremonies and celebrations, others for working in the fields and drumming, song and dance are part of the culture of Nansady’s homeland.

He has taught me a lot about his way of life and the importance of community and working together which I hold very dear in my own life.

The rhythms are played on djembes – hand drums with goatskins and bass drums (3 sizes of drum with cowskin heads called dunumba, sangban and ken keni and played with sticks). Players of the bass drums or dunun also play a bell pattern at the same time.

The rhythms are infectious and intricate but also powerful and exciting and I ensure that everyone has the opportunity to play both bass drums and djembe during the classes.

Find a class near you and have a go!

4 thoughts on “About Mark Barfoot

  1. Hi Mark. How would you feel about an African drumming 7th birthday party for our son who was thrilled to attend and take part in Drum Struck at the Edinburgh Fringe last year. There’d probably be 10-20 kids aged 6 and 7. We can sort out a venue if necessary. We live just outside Durham City. If you cannot help with this can you direct me to anyone else? Many thanks. Jane

    • Hi Jane, nice to hear from you. Had you a date or day in mind? I have a large
      collection of small and medium djembes and have contact details for two halls
      in Durham city. If you have a preferred venue Im happy to go with that.

      I live ar Cornsay Colliery near Lanchester, Langley Park and Esh Winning

  2. Hi Mark,
    I can’t seem to find your contact details. I am a teacher in a primary school in Northumberland, and we were wondering whether you would be able to deliver a workshop for 6 – 7 year olds. Please can you get back to me either way.
    Many thanks


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