The Fruits of Practice Sound Like This: Sidiki Dembele

Bang-whang-whang goes the drum, tootle-tetootle the fife; no keeping one’s haunches still: it’s the greatest pleasure in life.
~ Robert Browning


Some of the best musicians in the world spoke with me long and deeply about music practice, including Sidiki Dembele. That information and much more are in my next book, The Practice of Practice. A Kickstarter campaign is LIVE for The Practice of Practice until April 11, 2014. Learn more about the book, and how it’s different from any other practice book, get the best deal, and help bring the book into the world. It’ll be fun. I promise. Watch the short video.


Yesterday I had the honor of talking with Sidiki Dembele and his wife, Vivian who helped translating some more difficult concepts (thanks, Sidiki and Vivian!).

Sidiki Dembele
Sidiki Dembele

Sidiki is a fantastic musician from Abidjan, Ivory Coast in West Africa and now living in Manchester, UK. He plays many instruments (ngoni, balafon, kora…), but his main instrument is the djembe. He overcame some serious hardships and put in an amazing amount of time practicing, and it shows.

But what I found most awesome is the way that Sidiki is trying to give back, to help out disadvantaged kids both back home and in his current home in the UK. He’s been teaching since around age 14 back home in Abidjan with a group known as Denifari, and he has started a similar group in Manchester. Here’s what his website says about it:

Denifari literally means a new way for youth – and that was how the story began. Growing up in a slum area flanking the great commercial capital of Cote d’Ivoire, Sidiki was all too aware of the social and economic restrictions under which the community struggled to survive; and of the temptations faced by local boys and young men whose families strove to provide against all odds, under conditions most of us here in Europe can only guess at.

Poorly educated, sometimes malnourished and dressed in worn tee shirts and jeans, the group moved into a rented shack, provided by Sidiki, where they lived, learned and prepared for the future. Now those original members are amongst the most acclaimed musicians in Cote d’Ivoire, playing at community and cultural events and concerts throughout West Africa, and continuing to manage the day to day affairs of the school on Sidiki’s behalf.  Despite now living in England, Sidiki remains the lynchpin of the organisation and no decisions are made without his input. Denifari is still at the heart of Sidiki’s life and endeavour.

Sidiki has begun a similar endeavor in Manchester and needs help with both space and funding. If you are at all in a situation to help him do this important work, please visit his web site and get in touch with him. (Also, you’ve got to check out his music: full-length samples. My favorite is Ambeh sini)

I hope to put up the interview in the next couple weeks.

Here’s Sidiki playing solo djembe on Jarafoli with the group Anante at Drumroots Live in Manchester, 2011.

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

And here is Sidiki playing kora with Baba Gale who plays the African flute.


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