It’s a new year and here are five ideas to keep your mbira journey exciting as ever.

1. Set out a practice schedule 

It is often the case that sometimes you meet someone and they start playing a song and you suddenly realise that it’s been aaaageeees  since you last played a song.  Somehow the song comes back to you immediately and you marvel at your friend having reminded you of this long lost dear song. While it’s a fantastic feeling, how about coming up with a schedule to help you give attention to some of the songs you’ve already learnt before piling on new variations and songs?

Start by simply making a list of all the songs you’ve already learnt  and making a practice schedule so that you can give attention to some of those songs that you might have forgotten. Of course you might prefer to be proficient on particular songs than others so work on the bias of your schedule according to your preferences.  We will post a mock up practice schedule in the near future.

2. Teach Someone Your Favourite Song/Variation (for free) 

Teaching someone a song/variation can be very rewarding for the person who learns the song/variation as well as for the person who is teaching. Through teaching you get to understand your song/variation better and sometimes you discover things that you might not have considered before. Do it for free, we promise that it feels really nice! (We Know some make their living off teaching mbira)

3.Find a new environment to play mbira

mbira lessons, make a mbira, zimbabwe mbiraWhy not play mbira in a new environment? A change of environment can be refreshing and help you experience the music differently.  Places that have been enjoyed by others include by fast flowing streams, near waterfalls, in hills, in a cave, a ravine just to mention a few. It doesn’t need to be all nature based, your local pub might do!

4. Organise a session with other mbira players

One of the challenges for some mbira players/students is not getting enough practise time with other players. It isn’t always teasy to find other mbira players.  As a result, you  might find yourself resorting to playing along to recordings, alternating between kushaura and kutsinhira parts. Arrange some sort of meeting pattern with other players even if it’s only five or three times a year. Some of the best mbira lessons are not derived from hours of playing with a teacher but from the experience of playing with other players in a non-teaching environment. Organising meet up can be hard work but well worth the effort.

Find some Zimbabwean recipes and make some delicious stuff to share at your gathering. When all are exhausted, tuck in!

5.  Reflect on what draws you to mbira. 

Maybe it’s also time for some introspection. Take this opportunity to reflect on what mbira means to you and what it means to the Shona and people of Zimbabwe more broadly. Why not look at it from a historical point of view , the current and potential future?

Let’s hear your other mbira ideas for 2014>

Have an amazing year 🙂