More than twenty years now I am enthusiastic about making West-African music. I started long ago with the African Dance and the Djembé but nowadays I am almost full time working with balafon. To study and rehearse, to give courses and workshops and – when possible taking lessons in Burkina Faso or Mali. But also making study material, doing maintanance and rebouilding of balafons, and of cours: playing with other people!
Since 1993 I make music known as West African Percussion. I started with African dance, djembé and the accompanying bass drums. Gradually my passion has been developed for playing the Balafon; the wooden, pentatonically tuned, xylophone-like instrument. I sing matching songs and continue playing djembé, sangban, doundoun and kenkeni.
The notes of rhythms and their backgrounds that I made in years of all the lessons I received, were first published 1995 in a book with rhythm notations. My last book dates from 2003 “101 West African Rhythms”. Since 1997, the website The WAP-pages has been compiled with comparable information in English. For the balafon I still also process what I learn into new material. In Africa, I feel like doing ‘cultural archaeological work’ when I learn and describe rhythms that may never have been recorded before!
During a trip in Burkina Faso in 1997, I became involved in development work for the first time. Since then I make a link between making music and contributing to development projects on a small scale. As a board member and volunteer of the Zongo family, I work directly, within the Zongo family foundation, on the financing of water pumps, a grain bank, a cultural exchange project and an agricultural project in the village of Ouezindougou in Burkina Faso (“The land of the sincere person” ).
I have played 10 years in the West African Dance and Percussion Group IDON! Now I play with different groups; among others at Dalaba .; percussion, singing, balafon; music to be happy!
I started teaching to create the opportunity to play with others. The balafon is in fact an instrument that you prefer to play in two or more. In order to be able to give these lessons, I needed equally tuned balafoons, which meant that I started retuning and doing restoration work on balafons myself.
In addition to my work around the balafon, I provide performances in primary schools. For this I have a partnership with friend and colleague Jan Wilms within JeanPaul, interactive children’s performances with music.
“In Africa, I feel like doing ‘cultural archaeological work’ when I learn and describe rhythms that may never have been recorded before!“