Leo demonstrating Djembe technique at class.

Next to working in the shop building drums, Leo's great love is for teaching. There is nothing that brings him more joy than to see the eyes light up on a new student who realizes that they are playing music.

Leo figures he has had more than 300 students take his introduction to hand drumming class. He has also taught many intermediate and advanced classes and plans on continuing his monthly workshop series which allows more experienced students to learn and experience rhythmic ensembles from Leo's studies at home and abroad.

It is Leo's dream to have a centre of his own from which to teach and sell drums, but until that dream materializes, Leo continues to offer a variety of classes throughout the year in different loactions around Ottawa and Gatineau. Simply click on the tabs above for more details.


A number of attentive students.

Adult Beginner Hand Drumming Classes
Given through L'Academie des Retaités de L'Outaouais

I am teaching for the first time in the daytime for the ARO, an organization for folks over the age or 50 in the region. The classes will be Thursdays from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at the City of Gatineau community centre called le Chalet Bisson, located on rue Thérien off Cité des Jeunes. Classes run from January 17 to March 6. The classes will given (mostly) in French.

Cost is $120. Maximum 15 folks. Drums will be provided.

For More info or to Register contact:

Michael Ouellette, BSc.loisir
Agent à la programmation
Académie des retraités de l'Outaouais
Téléphone : 819 776-5052

Ligne info : 819 776-9955

These classes will be based mostly on my book, 'Introduction to Hand Drumming - Part 1.'

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Classes at the Ottawa Jewish Community Centre

I am offering a follow up class to the beginner's class I gave at the OJCC in the fall. It is open to anyone who has taken a beginner's class with me.

When: Wednesdays, February 6 to 27, 2008
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Cost: $80

Where: The Ottawa Jewish Community Centre (Off Carling,  South onto Broadview, then Left)
Contact Roslyn Wollock to register 613-798-9818 x254 or email rwollock@jccottawa.com


Classes in Gainteau (Val des Monts)

In the fall of 2007 I started teaching casual classes in a beautiful home in Val Des Monts in Gatineau. Classes are in fridays every two weeks, and are $15 each. They will resume in mid February for the spring. Please email Leo if you are interested.


Kids enjoying drumming



There are no scheduled kids classes at this time.



Shara Dancing with Leo and friend Catherine in the background drumming.

Since 2004, Leo has collaborated with Shara Weaver, a local dancer who has twice traveled to West Africa to study dance. The idea and purpose of the class is for the students to learn both the dance steps and drumming patterns for rhythmic styles from Guinea and Mali. So far they have worked on such dances as Wollosodon, Kassa, Sinté, Madan, Mendiani and others.

Throughout the years Leo and Shara have noticed that drummers and dancers develop a better sense of timing through learning the other’s discipline. They normally hold classes at the Crichton Cultural Community Centre in Ottawa (200 Crichton St) but offer outdoor classes when the weather turns warm.

There is no better way to get a good dose of exercise and fun than doing African Drumming and Dance.

There are no drum and dance classes scheduled until September. Details to follow.



Leo with the his bala teacher Fasery Diabaté in Mali

Leo has been working with a small number ofbalafon students dedicated to learning the art of this beautiful and ancient instrument.

Students are on a constant path of progess with Leo as we explore together the traditional music of this instrument and western music theory to help complete the picture.

New students are welcome at any time. Leo would gladly try his best to get any complete novices up to speed in private sessions so that they can join our little group.

We regularly meet on thursdays at the homes of various members of our group, and play between the hours of 7:30 and 9:00. Classes are by donation, but Leo appreciates between $15 and $20 per session.

Please Contact Us for more info, and don't be shy. Leo absolutely loves introducing this instrument to more people.

Occasionally Leo will take on a small number of students to build their own Ashiko in his workshop under his direction. All participants start with rough lumber and learn to plane, joint and saw the wood to create staves for the drum. Once the drum is assembled, students will turn the drum on the lathe and apply finish. From there they will measure and weld their own rings, prepare the skin and rope the skin onto the drum. After the skin dries, they will tighten the drum and take it home. A wonderful way to bond with an instrument is to have built it yourself.

The cost for this class is $400 including all materials. Leo will run these classes when 3 or more people are interested. It usually takes about 20 – 25 hours spread out over 5 days. In most cases he has run these sessions on Saturday mornings.

Please Contact Us if you are interested. Below are some photos of past participants, all very happy with their drums!

Below are some quotes from students Leo has taught in the past. Leo would love any additions to these testimonials. To add your own, click here

"I attended Leo's classes for three years and participated in several of his workshops.  I found the lessons exhilarating and motivating.  Leo's wealth of knowledge about drumming and its cultural contexts along with his fresh energy and ready wit provided a lively atmosphere.  I was impressed by his ability to integrate various  skill levels to create a splendid, challenging drumming experience for everyone. "
– Ilse Turnsen, Wakefield, Quebec

"Leo loves drumming and his love is contagious.  A great teacher!  He really cares that you 'get it'.   Whether a beginner class or an advanced workshop on soloing technique, show up!  I promise you won't regret it."
– Jean Brereton, Golden Lake, ON.

"Leo is a great teacher! He made learning fun and easy and the learning materials are so helpful. I'm hooked and am looking forward to the next round of classes. He really knows his 'stuff' and has a great sense of humour too! Thanks Leo for introducing me to the world of African drumming."
-  Pauline Pratt, Winchester, Ontario

"Leo students gather to drum for the physical, mental, emotional and social benefits of drumming. Leo's lessons give us social connections. Leo's drumming experience and knowledge of world rhythm provides his students with a solid base to learn from. His lessons incorporate technical and historical background. Leo's teaching style is supportive, using humour and positive re-enforcement to share with us the true joy he finds in hand drumming Leo leaves us inspired to continue to learn about rhythms and drums."
- Judy and Ross McEwen, Renfrew, Ontario

"I didn't even want to play the drums. The thought terrified me, actually. But my regular West African dance teacher, Shara Weaver, was now including drumming in her dance classes, so I bravely signed up and soon found a djembe between my knees. I tapped it tentatively at first. But Leo's incredibly patient and always-upbeat instruction soon made me, and the rest of class, able to accompany a whole group of dancers. Now, at the start of every new class term, I look forward to starting from the basics and building up a rhythm that we can all play together. I'm not terrified anymore. I dare say I've even come to like the drumming as much as the dancing!"
– Caitlin Crockard, Ottawa, Ontario

"Leo is an excellent instructor and mentor when it comes to learning percussion.  He has a knack for breaking down complicated rhythms and concepts so that the whole class can ramp up to play a complicated piece. I started to learn African Drumming from Leo and he's aways been there to advance my skills through classes and by bringing in other instructors. He also assisted in getting our group Kunundrum started and has been a great asset for us when learning new songs and playing at our performances.  I can't imagine Ottawa's drumming community without Leo in the picture."
– Ken Walker, Ottawa, Ontario

"Leo is an excellent teacher.  He makes it fun and easy to learn complex rhythms while sharing his fascinating insight into the culture behind the rhythms.  I highly recommend his classes for all levels but specially for beginning and intermediate drummers."
– Conrad Pereira, Ottawa, Ontario

"As a humble student of rhythmn, I've had the good fortune of participating in a number of workshops, retreats, and study over the years.  For those of us who were not introduced to the. 6\8 bell patern in the womb, Leo's outlook, approach, and sensitivity genuinely makes up for those lost years.  While he might not be as funny as he thinks he is ; )  I don't know of a better drum teacher, facilitator or builder in eastern Canada. Simply put, Leo is 'completo' ".
- Samuel Steinberg, Ottawa, Ontario

"Having never played an African drum in my life, understandably I was somewhat apprehensive and nervous about taking lessons......  I need't have been.  Classes with Leo were always heaps of fun - his gift for teaching, his talent as a drummer and his ease with people is truly amazing.   I learned lots, had
heaps of fun, and was sad when the classes ended. I look forward to the next."
– Liz Mordue, Ottawa, Ontario

"Leo is the best damn drum teacher in the Ottawa Valley.  His classes are fun and challenging. He has books and CDs to practice on your own. He also teaches rhythms that you can play along with your favourite CDs.  Leo's classes are always filled with significant insights and happy drummers. No matter what kind of day you had, you go home happy.  It is better than Yoga."
- Judith Frederick, Ottawa, ON