Maali’s Music School

Maali’s music school was the place where my field studies took place and also where I lived during the three month stay. The school is founded by the jali (griot) and Kora Master Alagi Mbye in his compound in Nema Kunku. A part of the Latrikunda sabiji area. The name Maali is after a wise and respected man from the area.

In a traditional jali (mandinka name for griot) home you often find other jalis children living and studying to become a jali. One idea behind the school has been to teach music to non-jali youths and kids as well. Throughout the years many gambian and international students have come to the school and learned to play west african instruments like the Kora, Balafon, Djembe, Sabar (wolof drums), Kutiro (mandinka drums), singing, dancing and more. Other subjects are historical storytelling and instrument building.

In the compound, the extended family system consisted of around 15 people. Neighbors and friends often came for visits. Just outside the compund there was a shop where people used to gather for a chat, to cook ataya and to watch football on television. Inside the compund there was an orange tree that hade nice fresh oranges that we ate everyday atleast for one or two months until they finnished.

Here is a recording from a small jam session we had one day at Maali’s Music school.


Ebrima Mbye – kora
Nikolas Viisanen – pBone (plastic trombone)
Sutering Mbye – calabash