Clifford Koufman

Drums, Percussion, Piano, Guitar

Education and awards:

  • B.A. in Visual Art, Wake Forest University 
  • Studied music at Mount Hood Community College 
  • Studied music in West Africa
  • Received a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council in Oregon to travel to Guinea, West Africa to study music and drumming
  • Winner of the Thrive Award in Nashville to bring community music classes, performances, and jams to south Nashville

Notable roles/performance experience:

  • Freelance musician
  • African dance classes accompanist 
  • Performances with singer/songwriters, blues, Americana and rock bands
  • Performances with a big band in Taiwan for the Lantern/New Years Festival

Teaching experience: 

  • Teacher of all ages for over 20 years
  • Drumming Instructor at the University School, Montessori East, and Casa de Montessori

Clifford has over two decades of experience teaching drums across a variety of genres, including blues, jazz, rock, Afro-beat and singer-songwriter styles to students of all ages and experience levels. He also teaches West African percussion and the fundamentals of piano including reading, blues and improvisation. 

Clifford believes that almost everyone has rhythm (even those that say they don’t) and can play an instrument. It is his aim to show each student that they are capable of more than they thought was possible. “It’s one of those use it or lose it things,” he says. “My students love discovering that, yes, they can play their chosen instrument, and I love being part of their discovery process.”

As part of his own musical education, Clifford traveled to Ghana and Guinea in West Africa to study with master drummers. Two of his primary teachers were grandmasters, Mamady Keïta and Famoudou Konaté. “Immersing myself in their cultures gave me something possibly nobody else in this part of America has, which is true hands-on, face-to-face in situ experience. I have also studied with master musicians from Cuba, Brazil and the Middle East. There is so much more to teaching than just playing the notes. Culture is a key component in grasping the feel and understanding the philosophy,” Clifford shares.