Hawaii Mbira Camp 2010

Mbira Camp

Ahhh! A whole week of healing music and community…and playing mbira at the ocean! The next MBIRA Camp sessions will be:

  • February 9-15, 2020 in Anahola, Kauai, Hawaii!   (right by the beach!!!)
  • July 5-11 in Berkeley, California (details soon)
  • September 20-26 with ‘Samaita’ Vitalis Botsa in Berkeley, California (details soon)

MBIRA Camp is total immersion in traditional Shona mbira music of Zimbabwe, with great depth and respect for ancient tradition. Past mbira campers have come from all over North America, Australia, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. Enroll now.


Mbira Camps are led by Erica Azim, who has played and loved Shona mbira music since 1970, and has shared her passion for mbira with thousands of mbira students from all over the world. She has developed a teaching method designed specifically for the non-Zimbabwean student who desires to experience traditional Shona mbira music in its fullest depth. Some years MBIRA is able to bring a co-teacher for camp from Zimbabwe. ‘Samaita’ Vitalis Botsa is the planned co-teacher for the 20-26 September 2020 Mbira Camp.

Mbira Camp is sponsored by the non-profit organization MBIRA, devoted to the preservation and support of traditional Shona mbira music of Zimbabwe.

Mbira Camp 2015
Mbira Camp 2015

Typical Mbira Camp Day

The typical Mbira Camp day includes mbira lessons in the morning, a break after lunch, an optional related activity in the afternoon (hosho lesson, mbira dance, cultural presentation, etc) followed by time for the group to play mbira together, and the full group gathering in the evening for mbira singing and playing together. Time is also set aside for students to have the opportunity to play one-on-one with the teacher, which is an important part of traditional mbira learning.

Afternoon and evening activities are optional, and taking breaks is encouraged when needed. However, allowing yourself to be a bit overwhelmed opens you to learning in the less-controlled, soaking it up way a child does, and mbira students often find themselves making incredible progress with aspects of the music they were stuck on in other learning contexts, such as lessons.

During the Hawaii Camp session, afternoons are spent at the beach, weather permitting.

Mbira Camp activities and instruction may include:

Mbira Camp 2011
Mbira Camp 2011
  • mbira lessons in pairs and groups
  • individual mbira lessons
  • mbira theory: how to improvise correctly within the mbira tradition
  • learning to hear more of the interlocking melodies in the mbira music you play, singing lines the mbira is playing, and volume variations
  • how to know when to play variations (and when not to)
  • styles of kutsinhira playing
  • playing together, the lock of kushaura and kutsinhira parts
  • where the beat of the hosho rattles fits with kushaura and kutsinhira
  • learning to hear resultant lines when playing together, singing them, and bringing them out in your playing
  • learning to sing traditional mbira lyrics
  • listening to recordings of Shona mbira players
  • mbira-style hosho (gourd rattles which accompany mbira)
  • learning about the traditional context of mbira in Shona culture and religion
  • mbira dance
  • exploring mbira tunings and learning how to tune your mbira
  • playing mbira individually, with a master teacher playing the other part
Mbira Camp Day at the Redwoods 2012
Mbira Camp Day at the Redwoods 2012

When you arrive at camp, please mention your preference to include any of the above activities. Also, campers often play together in 2’s and 3’s informally, outside scheduled session/lesson times.

Mbira lovers at every playing level are encouraged to attend, and previous Mbira Camps have included new-first-timers, beginning, intermediate, and advanced players. New beginners may purchase an instrument from MBIRA in advance to use at Camp, or choose one at Camp.


The February 2020 Hawaii Mbira Camp location is on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, at Anahola. We will have a large yurt looking out at the ocean, and will likely spend plenty of time on the beach. There are also other covered areas, making it easy to spread out when practicing.

The September 2020 Mbira Camp location is Erica Azim’s big house and garden in Berkeley, California.

Meals and Sleeping at Camp

Meals are usually vegetarian. Mbira Camp is known for its great chefs!

At the Hawaii Mbira Camp, the yurt we are using for the lessons has 4 beds, and you can reserve these with your camp enrollment.  For more privacy, there are campsites and some other accommodation available that you must get directly here (don’t delay as they typically sell out). The bathroom with hot showers is a separate building.

At mbira camp in California, sleeping is in a large shared room in the house on single size futon mats.

Cost and enrollment

Mbira Camp 2001
Mbira Camp 2001

The non-refundable deposit to hold your place in Hawaii Mbira Camp is $412, due now.

Total cost of Hawaii Mbira Camp is:

  • $876 for full camp
  • $515 for 4 days of camp (must include first or last day)
  • $144 for one day of camp, or camp by the day
  • $160 extra to reserve  bed in the shared yurt (it has 4 beds)

Your payment includes all meals, instruction, and activities.

Advance enrollment for Mbira Camp is required.

Enrollment is on a “first come” basis, so pay your deposit (or full fee) as soon as possible – your place in camp is not reserved until your payment is received. The balance of payment is due no later than your first day of Camp. You can choose to pay online, or with a check or USD money order payable to MBIRA, when you submit your Mbira Camp Enrollment Form. Payment is non-refundable, unless another student takes your place (occasionally there is a waiting list).

Mbira Camp Enrollment Form

Argentina Mbira Camp 2011
Argentina Mbira Camp 2011

Camp Recording Policy

  • You may audio record your individual and group lessons (audio ONLY, please, NO VIDEO allowed but of course you can video your own hands). You may not copy your recordings for anyone who did not attend the camp.
  • Mbira Piece Intensives.” Listening to recordings of many different musicians playing the piece you are learning is an important part of learning an improvisational style you did not grow up hearing. These intensive listening experiences are available from the MBIRA Store, and the money goes to the musicians on the CD/Download. Save up and bring money for these, or listen before you come, as they are an important part of the teaching method.


More Mbira Camp information, including schedule, “to bring” list and directions will be sent to enrolled Campers. Questions? Contact us