The Amadu Bansang Jobarteh School Of Music Gambia's First Specialist Music Institution


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Amadu Bansang Jobarteh School of Music - Gambia's first Manding music school

  The Amadou Bansang Jobarteh School of Music is the first school established in The Gambia to offer the integrated study of music and academic education. Specialising in the area of Manding Music (one of West Africa’s oldest surviving musical traditions) this school promotes and cultivates knowledge, expertise and an innate pride in culture and tradition amongst the young people of The Gambia.
Traditionally music is taught within families, however nowadays many musicians have moved to work, teach and perform internationally thus leaving the next generation at home without people to offer them structured tutorship.
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  Sona Jobarteh

This broken structure within musical families has led to young picking up instruments without a grounded knowledge of the repertoire or history, as well as an increasing number turning towards other genres of music such as R&B and Hip Hop as a result of the lack of inspiration to pursue traditional music.


Sona Jobarteh has been working hard on developing a pioneering new curriculum for the study of traditional music at the school which guides students through all the essential aspects of the tradition. She is also developing Music theory classes that will be taught through the use of traditional musical values, thus shifting the innate orientation that written music can only be applied to western forms of music. Sona hopes that this will open up a whole new world of written composition which will be rooted in African music and instrumentation.
  Alongside this pioneering new music curriculum the school is teaching a refined academic curriculum which draws on the Finnish approach. Finland has consistently held top spot for academic achievement in Europe over the past few decades, and this school is the first to bring this methodology to The Gambia in a move to raise the bar of academic achievement in the country. Important additions to the common subjects of Maths, Literacy and Science will include Music Theory, Instrument-Making, Music Technology, Art, Art History, African History, World History, Film and Media studies.

The school takes very seriously the issues surrounding health and harmful practices that continue to survive in society today such as early marriage and FGM. Students are educated not only through daily routine practice in areas such as maintaining strict hygiene, but also through open discussion about issues which affect society. Rather than marginalise these topics by holding dedicated classes, the ABJ School of Music integrates these topics and issues into the everyday classes and practices at the school. In this way students develop more confidence to think critically and address these issues and realise that they have the ability to affect real change in the world.  


Dietary health is another important undertaking for the school. Poor diet, and lack of knowledge and understanding about the dangers of certain ingredients and foods is a real problem in The Gambia. A very large percentage of Gambians suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure as a direct consequence of excessive consumption of salt, refined sugars, and processed foods.

The school focusses on helping its students understand the effect of food on their overall health and growth development.


In September we will be starting our specialist food and nutrition programme. This programme will gear us towards being able to grow our own food for the school and to have our cooks fully trained in being able to cook healthy, nutritious food for our children.

Importantly the children will be involved every step of the way. They take part in the cultivation of our crops by having regular field days which will educate them in agriculture. They will learn how to harvest the crops and will give the children regular classes on how to cook using healthy ingredients. This programme will give the children the chance to be involved in the full process from the planting of the seeds to preparing the food to eat.

Additionally the school will be working hard to make this knowledge transferable to the wider community through holding workshops involving the children's parents. We will also be gearing towards holding workshops within the communities where the children live to facilitate a wider impact for this important programme. We will work with the community on ways to plant their own crops and therefore harvest their own food. This has a potentially huge effect on large number of families living in rural areas who struggle to pay for food daily.

If you are interested in supporting this programme or volunteering please contact us.

Amadu Bansang Jobarteh School of Music - Gambia's first Manding music school
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