Sticks+Bars Youth Marimba ensemble was founded in 2014 by Pr ila 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 have performed at the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, and many other prominent venues, including TEDxMidAtlantic “Unbreakable” in 2019. Sticks+Bars Youth Marimba Ensemble is Washington, D.C.’s first and only African style youth marimba band. In fact, it is one of few such ensembles in the eastern United States. Founded in 2014 by Premila Mistry, a music teacher in the District of Columbia Public School System, the ensemble gives students in grades 5-12 the opportunity to learn the beautiful marimba music of Zimbabwe and South Africa. The participating students also play, perform and compose music for marimba in other genres and styles.

No prior experience is necessary to join the group, which has grown from 11 students to more than 40 over the past five years. They come from public, private and charter schools across the D.C. metro area.
Sticks+Bars has performed by invitation in numerous venues in and around D.C. including Strathmore Hall in Bethesda, Maryland; the Millennium Stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; The Wharf DC in celebration of its opening; and at Mayor Bowser’s State of the District Address at Arena Stage. The Advanced Ensemble traveled to Atlantic City, NJ in 2016, to play as the featured ensemble for 1000 music educators attending the American Orff Schulwerk Association Professional Development Conference. In 2018, the students also traveled to Ithaca, NY where they opened the Ithaca College High School Gospel Festival.

Each year, Ms. Mistry also strives to give students the opportunity to interact with professional musicians from around the world and experience music as an international language. Most recently, Sticks+Bars was honored to play for and interact with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a world-famous a cappella singing group from South Africa. These experiences help the ensemble members expand their horizons, enrich their own music, and share the joy of marimba.