Video Tutorials

We have developed a series of tutorials to help you learn the kora, all available to buy below.  They are suitable for a variety of abilities as each tutorial includes the basic kumbengo (main riff or repeated pattern) as well as a variety of breaks and variations. You do NOT need to be able to read music as all tuition is verbal and with an animated graphic.

Learning to play the traditional Mandinka repertoire takes many hours of practice. Things need to be repeated many times, and the beauty of a well-made video tutorial is that it can be played, replayed and paused at will. It is infinitely patient and will always play the same thing, which for an experienced kora player is surprisingly hard to do, as they improvise and extemporise all the time; it is the nature of the music and the tradition.

Songs and Pricing
More about our video tutorials
Song extracts
Songs and Pricing

There are currently seven tutorials available, Kelefa Ba, Jarabi, Bani Le, Miniamba, Saxadougou and Jimbasengo with Adam plus Toubaka with Josh.  See the song extracts below.

Each costs £34.95 with discounts for multiple purchases, i.e. choose any 3 for £100.00, or a beginner’s or improver’s bundle, 6 for £195, or all 7 for £224. Each bundle has a free copy of the Tips and Techniques video.  When you order your bundle we contact you to ask you which songs you want included.

If you want to try one first before buying the full set that’s fine; choose for one now and then contact us within 2 weeks to pay the balance.

More about our video tutorials

The tutorials are available as downloads and a link will be sent to you via email on receipt of payment. If you have a very slow internet connection you may need to consider asking for it to be posted to you on a USB stick/key.  Please advise at Checkout if you are an iPad user, and we will send you another link as a different format is required.

Each includes the tutorial itself, a full version of the song played by Adam in mp3 format and the introductory video below. The tutorials vary in length but all include the basic song with detailed step by step instruction, plus variations and breaks, enabling the kora student to develop the song further as their level of playing improves.

The free introductory video below explains the approach and is included with your download, as is a full version mp3 of the song, played by Adam.

Each of the four [now 6] existing teaching tutorials are a fantastic way to get to grips with playing the Kora and suits my learning style perfectly, clear breakdown of sequences note by note and the Kora head graphic highlighting the notes as you play is a fantastic addition. This is a fantastic tool in the box to start learning to play the Kora. I can’t wait for the next rhythms to be finished.

Ray, United Kingdom (Video Tutorials purchaser)

Song extracts

Kelefa Ba  (run time 28min20)

Traditionally this is the first song to be learned, and for a good reason, introducing many of the basic concepts and techniques.   It is also believed to be the first song that was actually composed on and for the kora.

This is an extract from the full MP3, it is not the tuition speed, don’t panic… 

Jarabi   (run time 32min30)

This song is about love, but this can be interpreted in several ways, and some people also describe it as being about addiction and passion.

MiniamBa  (run time 25min20)

This popular song is about a great snake, the Python. There are very many versions of the story, from being a snake who helped a woman give birth when she went into labour whilst alone in the forest, to a snake that swallowed a whole village when in danger from drought/marauding armies and released them into a wonderful land of bounty, and to a yet another story about an evil snake.

Bani Le  (run time 34min06)

This song is about the history of a series of wars between the Fulani and  the Kaabu.   It was chosen to be in the first four tutorials simply because we like the tune!

Saxadougou (run time 44min50)


Jimbasengo (run time 48min 17)

A dance song, and the name is onomatopoeic (the word sounds like the music).  The kumbengo has 12 equal length notes and seems deceptively simple initially, but in fact is difficult to play well and to its full potential.