Laurence is one of the UK’s leading djembe teachers, renowned for his inspirational and unique approach to teaching, which combines the best elements of the traditional African method with holistic rhythmical musicianship training.
He studied drum kit and percussion at Trinity College of Music, where he was nominated for the TCM Gold Medal Award after graduating with 1st Class Honours in 2008. While at college he learned World Percussion with Salah Dawson Miller (3Mustaphas3, Justin Adams, The Wayward Sheikhs).
His interest in the world’s folk music inspired him to travel to Ghana in 2009, where he spent 3 months learning with master-drummer, dancer and culture musician Daniel Asare in Accra. While studying with Daniel he gained knowledge of many different styles of traditional music including Kpanlogo, Waka, Gome, Fume Fume, Ewe, Senegalese, Guinean and Malian (watch dances on videos page).
In 2011 he returned to West Africa, travelling through Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana once more. While in Senegal he learnt sabar drumming with Yatma Thiam (Viviane N’dour, Khamdel Lo, Pap Diouf), son of Assane Thiam, who played talking drum with Youssou N’dour.
In Guinea, Laurence studied for four weeks with master djembefolas Bangaly Kounbasa and Lamine Camara, gaining a traditional style African education in djembe music from various tribes including the Sousou, Djakanke, Landuma and Malinke.
Returning to Ghana, Laurence reunited with Ghanaian teachers Daniel Asare and Sadiq Addy (nephew of Moustapha Tettey Addy) in the Greater Accra region in southern Ghana to continue his study of folkloric Ga music and ‘culture’ drumming of all kinds. (Learn more about ‘culture’ on articles page)
In London, Laurence also performs Brazilian music with carnival samba band Rhythms of the City, and with his World percussion group ‘Talking Drum‘, who perform music from Africa, Brazil and Cuba. He has travelled to and studied traditional music in Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Olinda to further broaden his knowledge of Afro-Brazilian music. Laurence also freelances as a percussionist and drummer of all styles.
Laurence has 9 years of teaching experience from primary school to university level. He has taught African drumming to postgraduate music students at Royal Holloway and Goldsmiths universities. He has also set up his own teaching projects including the AMS Project, African drumming and musicianship classes in primary schools in south-east London; Greenwich Young Musicians, children’s evening musicianship and instrumental lessons; and Drum Africa, African Drumming evening community classes co-founded with James Green. In his teaching, Laurence aims to transfer all that he has learnt about the African approach to musical education and rhythm to music of all kinds.
James is co-founder of Drum Africa and plays dunduns with the class.