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become the most Inspiring Music Teachers

Fall 2023 MECA

Continuing Education Courses


Exploration of Hand Drums for the Music Classroom


September 18-December 8, 2023

Course Code



3 Graduate Credits*


$1,125 is due in full with registration. A $15 Early Bird Discount will be applied until August 31.


This course is designed to help all music educators learn the techniques and rhythms associated with several of the primary hand drums utilized in the music classroom. We will explore conga (Cuba), bongo (Cuba), djembe (West Africa) and timbau (Brazil). We will also discuss the Remo tubano drum and how it can be utilized as a versatile hand drum to represent many of these traditional instruments. Students will leave this course with an understanding of strong overall understanding of the tenets of hand drumming technique as well as the specific techniques necessary to achieve the characteristic sounds out of the the conga, bongo, djembe, timbau and tubao. Students will also explore traditional, non-traditional and modern rhythmic applications for these instruments.

* This course is offered at two course levels. Students enrolled in the MMEd program at VanderCook are eligible to enroll for the 500 course number. Students not enrolled in the MMEd program who wish to earn graduate credit as a MECA Continuing Education student should register for the four digit course number. The difference in credits earned and tuition cost is attributed to the difference in tuition rates for the MMEd and MECA Continuing Education programs. If you are unsure which section is best for you, please contact us directly at [email protected].


Chat Session

There are three required chat sessions on the following dates: Monday, September 18th 6-7pm cst Monday, October 16th, 6-7pm cst Monday, November 13th, 6-7pm cst



Required Text(s)

Recommended: Access to at least one hand drum.  Access to several hand drums and percussion accessories is a bonus.  

Recommended but not required: Michael Spiro “The Conga Drummers Guidebook”, Tam Tam Mandingue Djembe Academy “Curriculum for Traditional Djembe and Dunun, Book 1”

Learning Platform Information - Online Courses Only

Schoology is a learning management system that allows you to interact directly with your instructors, fellow students, and members of the greater VanderCook community.

The evening  before your class begins, be on the lookout for an email from Schoology with log-in instructions. Once you receive credentials, visit to login. 

Some courses have specific online chat meeting times (please see course descriptions), while others have a flexible meeting schedule. You can expect all courses to meet together in a live online chat. If a live meeting time doesn’t work, you can work with your instructor to make other arrangements.

More information about Schoology can be found at

Please see specific software/hardware requirements in the course description.

Online course grades are available within two weeks of the course(s) completion.  If you need a transcript, please CLICK HERE to access the online transcript request form. For a faster turnaround time, please submit the transcript request to the registrar prior to the end of your course(s).


Zachary Himelhoch Headshot Zachary Himelhoch

Zachary Himelhoch

Based in Oak Park, Illinois, Zachary Himelhoch is a world-percussionist with specialization in Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and Caribbean styles. Zachary has performed with numerous artists including Chance The Rapper, Denny Jiosa, Andy Narell, Lenny Castro, Etienne Charles, The Cool Kids, Daru Jones, Mark Walker, and Dave Garfield at events throughout the country including The Percussive Arts Society International Convention, Lollapalooza, the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival Benefit Concert, Windsor Jazz Festival, and the Syracuse Jazz Festival. He served as the house percussionist for Tom Hurst presents The Loud Jamz and the Band Director of Samba Nashville. As a World Percussion Specialist in Metro Nashville Public Schools, Zachary taught Brazilian, West African, Cuban, and Caribbean percussion to students ranging from Grades 2-12. For the past few years, he has taught World Percussion for the Classroom, a graduate-level MECA course designed to help teachers integrate world percussion into the classroom setting, as an Adjunct Instructor for VanderCook College of Music. Studying extensively under the direction of Ruben Alvarez, Skip “Brinquito” Burney, Tom Hipskind, Jarett Hicks, James Coviak, and Al DiBlassio, Zachary received his Bachelor of Arts in Instrumental Performance from Columbia College Chicago and his Masters in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music. He has taught clinics and master classes in percussion at a number of venues including the Jim Lee Fine Arts Camp, Columbia College Chicago, Holly Middle School, Mott Community College, Vanderbilt University, VanderCook College of Music, and Metro Nashville Public Schools. Zachary owns and operates CitySide Music, a company providing instructional programs, presentations, and private tutoring in all aspects of world percussion. CitySide Books is a publishing imprint dedicated to bringing music education to life through story. Owned and operated by Zachary Himelhoch, MMED, CitySide Books strives to empower families and teachers to introduce children to a world of exploration using the lens of music.

The mission of VanderCook College of Music is to enrich the lives of present and future generations by developing uniquely skilled music teachers who exhibit strong character, professionalism, and a commitment to excellence.

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