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About Our Music

Toque Tambor’s musical output is mainly Samba.

We concentrate closely on the style of music played by the Samba Schools and Carnival Blocos of Rio de Janeiro.

This music is played on the same instruments as the Samba Schools of Rio but incorporates rhythms from other parts of Brazil and the western world e.g Congo, Ciranda, Marcha and Funk.

On our larger performances we invite a singer and Cavaquinho (small Brazilian guitar) player.

Toque Tambor is one of the best examples of traditional Brazilian carnival music which has been reinvented for the European market.

A show is not to be missed!!

Musical Director

J P Courtney (the founder of Toque Tambor) is a professional percussionist from Ireland.

He specialises in Brazilian and Afro Cuban music and is considered one of the best talents in his field in the UK.

He has been playing, teaching, performing and studying since 1999.

As well as performing with many groups around the UK J P is currently teaching several Brazilian carnival music projects around the UK.

Having been a member of the Monobloco show band J P is well placed as an educator of the modern sounds of the “Carnaval Carioca” (Rio carnival)

He is regularly asked to travel and teach other groups who play Brazilian percussion. He has been all over the UK and also taught workshops in Ireland and Spain.


Hitchin, July 2002.  Following an intensive three day drumming and dance project put together by local music company One Voice Music and the Rhythms of the World Festival, attended by sambistas from around the world and culminating in an astounding public performance, the Hitchin Samba School was born.

Fuelled by the enthusiasm of the local people and the lack of anything quite like it the Hitchin Samba School invited members of the local community to get involved.  It was a huge success.

30 people took part in the free workshop; every one of them deciding to carry on the 10 week workshop learning new and exciting skills.

Keen to keep the momentum going, the Hitchin Rhythm Syndicate (HRS) was set up as a non-profit unincorporated association.

In December 2002 graduates from the workshop formed Toque Tambor, a band schooled in the art of Afro/Brazilian percussion, even though initially they had to perform on borrowed instruments!

Eventually HRS and Toque Tambor were amalgamated into Toque Tambor to save confusion.

Throughout 2003 and 2004 a total of three 10 week workshops were held, attended by a large number of local people.

Thanks also to a Lottery grant in 2003, the band were now able to buy their own instruments.

Toque Tambor were now regularly performing in public, notably at Hitchins’ very own Rhythms of the World plus Luton Carnival, amongst many other musical and cultural festivities.

2005 saw the group grow to an all-time high of 45 members.

Requests for appearances continue to grow, as Toque Tambor adds a culturally exciting element to many performances.

They were highly honoured to be asked to lead the Vaisakhi procession through Hitchin Town Centre.

In 2006 another successful introductory course saw the group take on 20 new members.

Toque Tambor want to enable more members of the local community to take part in workshops, to have the chance to learn percussion music in a fun learning environment and to continue to develop the skills of the members of the band, enabling them to represent Hitchin and Hertfordshire in a vibrant explosion of music, colour and dance.

The organisation continues to grow and this year is the biggest yet.