Tacuma King is an extraordinary teacher, master percussionist and prominent part of the Bay Area’s music, dance and arts education community. Youth of all ages and abilities are invited to attend his free Saturday afternoon Children in Flight class in African and jazz percussion, song and dance.
Tacuma has been teaching classes and leading students in performance since founding the Children in Flight program in 1993. For thirteen years his class has been an important—and sometimes only—gateway into the arts for many underserved, inner-city children. While most of the children served are from Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area, visiting artists have come from as far away as Ghana, Japan and Indonesia.
Among the percussion instruments children learn are the djembe, dundun and conga drums. Songs and dances include the Djolé, a West African masked wedding festivity; the Manjani, a rites of passage dance from Guinea; and the Gumboot, a dance originating from the gold mines of South Africa. Among the many artists and groups Tacuma has worked with are the San Francisco Symphony, Young Audiences, the Sun Ra Archestra, Cross Pulse, Shaka Zulu, Bantaba Dance Ensemble and his musical mentor Moshe Milon.
Tacuma’s teaching combines an expansive knowledge of music and dance with a loving concern for children. Whether teaching West African djembe and dundun drumming, teaching a South African gum boot dance or leading students in a New Orleans-style second line jazz procession, he brings an exuberant warmth and playful magic to his classes and workshops.
“Most kids wake up Saturday morning asking to watch cartoons; my son wakes up asking to go drumming and dancing with Tacuma.”
– William Ktsanes, parent