Fonsiba Koster


Fonsiba Koster has a BA in Music Education and has been teaching and performing on African hand drums since 1995. She has studied extensively with master drummers from Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast. Koster apprenticed with Madou Dembele for over four years, and together they toured Midwest schools in 2002-2003. In the summer of 2003, Koster lived with the Dembele family in the Ivory Coast, where she performed with Dramane Dembele and his drum troupe at traditional African weddings and produced a documentary video about her trip. Koster is also a rostered artist with the Iowa and Missouri arts councils, and has conducted over 400 African drumming programs in schools throughout the Midwest. She also presents character-building workshops through the nationwide Character Counts! program.

Artistic Statement: 

I teach African hand drumming to energize students to express their innate creativity and to give them an experiential taste of West African culture. With thirty West African jembe hand drums, I present one of the most interactive programs students can experience. First, I show my documentary video about living and drumming in West Africa. Students love this video, and it leads to many lively discussions about understanding and respecting other cultures. Then each class learns to play genuine African polyrhythms on the jembe hand drums. Students are thrilled as they learn to make music the “tribal way.” Each class views my display, which shows all the typical things used in an African home. I also teach African songs, dance, cooking, and clothes-making, as well as Character Counts! workshops.

Residency Type: 
Individual Artist