Zimbabwean Marimba Phenomenon


Marimba music in the Zimbabwean tradition is a richly expressive, collaborative musical experience that provides opportunities for both beginner and experienced musicians. This style of marimba music was first developed in Zimbabwe in the 1950’s as a way to encourage cooperation and unity between southern Africa’s diverse ethnic communities.  It draws on rich musical traditions from various parts of Africa, including ceremonial mbira music of Zimbabwe, gospel style vocal traditions of South Africa, already existing marimba traditions in Mozambique and more. As such, this marimba music focuses less on the solo instrumentalist and more on the harmonies and intricate rhythms created by multiple musicians on multiple instruments. The marimbas themselves are of different sizes, covering different octaves from the huge bass marimba to the high twinkling notes of the lead soprano. With multiple people playing interlocking parts on the whole range of marimbas, the music becomes dynamic and exciting, even if a single person’s part may not be all that complex (though some parts can be pretty complex). This style not only teaches musical aptitude but also encourages community and cooperation as the magic of the music really happens when all players are working together. In addition, it cultivates a cultural awareness of African traditions very diverse from our own. It is a great tradition for both the novice and the experienced musician to feel a part of making beautiful music together.

CRC’s Marimba Program

One of Carbondale Rhythm Collective’s missions is to bring the joyful, expressive and fulfilling experience of  Zimabawean marimba playing to as may people as possible in the Roaring Fork and Crystal River Valleys.  Of particular interest is bringing this musical experience to the youth in the area by teaching classes and holding workshops in local schools, as well as independently.  We have found this marimba tradition to be particularly effective in teaching young people both musical aptitude as well as the value of working together…having fun all the while!  Currently there is an ongoing youth class, and an adult performance group.  We also offer family marimba workshops from time to time, as well as go into local schools to teach classes and intensives.  We are currently raising funds to build our marimba collection so we can effectively offer classes to more students.  In addition, we welcome donations to our scholarship fund any time.  Tax deductible donations can be made through the Helios Arts Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit.  Please contact Eric at to be added to our email list or to make a donation.

Our Local Marimba Bands

The Flying Mallets
  • The Flying Mallets is an African-style youth marimba band made up of local Carbondale Middle School students. The music is a dynamic and joyful mix of compositions from Zimbabwe, South Africa, and beyond. Directed by Eric Baumheier, this group will make you want to get up and move your dancing feet!

Zononoka Marimba

  • Zononoka is an adult marimba band made up of a rotating group of members from the Roaring Fork and North Fork Valleys of Colorado.  The name Zononoka means ‘spiral’ in the Shona language of Zimbabwe, which symbolically represents the cyclical yet always unique path that the music follows.  The repertoire includes a mix of uplifting dance tunes from Southern Africa, deep and soulful ceremonial songs from Zimbabwe, and unique arrangements from the Americas.  Directed by Eric Baumheier of the Carbondale Rhythm Collective and David Alderdice from North Fork Embodying Rhythm, Zononoka is available for concerts, parties, and other events.  Please contact for more info.

For Marimba Concert info click here