The Kennedy Center

Sticks+Bars Youth Marimba Ensemble


Sticks+Bars Youth Marimba Ensemble was founded in 2014 by Premila Mistry. The first ensemble of its kind in Washington, DC, the mission of Sticks+Bars is to expose youths, ages 10-17 to the beautiful and lively music of southern Africa and beyond. Playing on African style marimbas, students learn to play the traditional music of Zimbabwe, South Africa, and other countries. No experience is necessary to join, just a love of playing music in a group, and having the drive to share their talents with others in performance.  Sticks+Bars has performed at the Arena Stage for Mayor Bowser’s State of the District Address, the Halcyon Awards Gala at Union Station, the grand opening of Wharf DC and the Sumner School Museum for the DC Public Schools Holiday Arts Open House. In 2016, the Advanced Ensemble was the featured group for the American Orff Schulwerk Professional Development Conference in Atlantic City, NJ.  The AOSA music educators from around the US gave the group a standing ovation. This spring, Sticks+Bars will be featured as the opening performers for the Ithaca College Gospel Festival in Ithaca, N.Y..  Sticks+Bars also prides itself on making cultural connections with percussion groups around the world. In November, 2015, we hosted Grupo Chango, a percussion youth group from Colombia who shared their musical talents with us, then we jammed together, all speaking the common language of music. In October of 2017, Sticks+Bars hosted Betsayda, a professional Venezuelan percussion group for a similar jam session. Sticks+Bars is dependent on donations, and has received a generous grant each year from the Share Fund.  This support has made it possible to provide a diverse group of DC youth a meaningful educational experience of building relationships, through music, with each other and professional groups across the globe.  Sticks+Bars is also generously supported by DC Bilingual Public Charter School, which supplies the space and storage for our rehearsals.

Premila Mistry, founder and director of Sticks+Bars began the program out of a love of marimba and a request from her middle school students to start a city-wide marimba ensemble. Beginning with just four marimbas and 11 students, Sticks+Bars has grown to host two classes: the General Class and the Advanced Class.  There are currently more than 30 youth members representing various elementary, middle, and high schools across Washington DC and surrounding areas. Students come from all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Mistry has been teaching music using the Orff pedagogy for 20 years.  She is currently teaching full time in the DC Public School system at John Eaton Elementary School, where she runs a morning marimba ensemble for students in grades 4 and 5, three mornings a week before school. Mistry also co-directs the spring musical at Eaton, and leads a choir for students in grades 3 through 5.  Her vision has inspired many young budding percussionists to join Sticks+Bars, and continue the work of spreading the love of marimba throughout the DC area and around the world.

Watch Past Performances

Video 4/8/2018: Target Family Night: Sticks+Bars Youth Marimba Ensemble

Sticks+Bars Youth Marimba Ensemble will present a program of marimba music from the African subcontinent, the Caribbean, and America. The music will feature a diverse repertoire of traditional, folk, spiritual, gospel, Motown, pop, and original compositions. 

The program includes Featured Guest Artists:
The Concert Chorus of the Children's Chorus of Washington
         Margaret Clark, Artistic Director

 Sticks+Bars Youth Marimba Ensemble