If only we had a nickel…
When people see us perform live, or react to a grant proposal, these are the questions we most frequently get asked. What other questions do you have? Contact us!
- How do you do that? (Play those instruments)
Cool, right? We each have our own story, but the universal theme among them is that we heard the music, were mesmerized by seeing it performed live, and wanted to do it, too!
- Where are the instruments from? What music are you playing?
The instruments are marimbas – a keyboard instrument found in many cultures around the world. This particular type of marimba can be found in schools in Zimbabwe, a country in Southern Africa. The marimba was introduced in Zimbabwe in the 1980s to help young people keep their traditional musics alive. Nearly all the music we play is from Zimbabwe, or inspired by Zimbabwean styles.
- Have you been to Zimbabwe?
Many times! We have strong, close relationships with many black Zimbabwean teachers, musicians, performers, and friends. In pre-pandemic times, we led guided cultural immersion tours to Zimbabwe for adults and teens, and hope to resume these trips when the threat of the pandemic has subsided.
- How did you learn to play this music/these instruments?
We learn the music and its cultural context in classes with Kutandara teaching staff and guest artists – at Kutandara Studios in Boulder, at music festivals in the US, and in Zimbabwe. We don’t read music to learn…or remember. We learn “by ear” – meaning that our teachers show us what to play – note by note and rhythm by rhythm. You can do it, too!
- Wait. Your staff and most players on stage are white. Isn’t that cultural appropriation?
Our BIPOC members of Kutandara’s leadership team can confirm that “cultural appropriation” is not occurring in our practices or programs. In an age of multiculturalism and diversity, cultural education, and cultural competency, Kutandara is a result of our collective contributions. Get to know us to find out more!
- So, do you have BIPOC people involved in leadership positions?
Yes! Over half of Kutandara’s board members are BIPOC, some of them participating via Zoom from on the ground in Zimbabwe. Our guest artists are nearly all BIPOC. In addition, the LGBTQ+ community is well-represented on our leadership team and student body, as well! For nearly 25 years, we’ve exposed thousands of Boulder residents to music that comes from a part of the world that many had never even heard of. Hundreds of our fellow Boulderites have been inspired to leap from passive listening to actively creating the music themselves in classes, and through this their curiosity about another culture grew. Friendships were formed. Lives were connected. Bridges were built. And, we continue that work today.
- But what about your costumes? Isn’t that cultural appropriation?
With regards to our performance attire, it would be disrespectful to the people, music, and culture of Zimbabwe to not “dress the part.” In Zimbabwe, performers do this as a way of respecting the music, the culture, and the ancestors who have passed this music on in irder for us to share it with the world. Our teachers have instructed us to wear what you see us wearing on stage – regardless of skin color, nationality, or ethnicity.
- Do you pay your guest artists and teachers?
As a practical matter, we operate on a shoestring budget; in fact, we have only two part-time W2 employee who leverage the voluntarism of dozens of committed people. Nonetheless, we pay visiting artists as 1099 contractors, all of whom use this income to support their families locally and around the world.
- How can I get involved?
We are glad you asked! Start at kutandara.org to explore and subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, then follow us on social media…you’ll find a way to become part of Kutandara that resonates with you!