Join Us

Weekly practice

Every Wednesday 7:30-9:30pm at the Bath House on the corner of Gwydir Street and Mill Road, Cambridge CB1 2LW map

COVID19 Note on our weekly practices- Since returning to band practices in May 2021, we have been looking for a new practice venue to accommodate 20 players safely and ask our players (new or existing ) to fill a sign-up form before coming to practice sessions. So please click on the link below, fill the form to find out the time and location of the practice sessions and come along. We are looking forward to play with you! Sign-up form  If you'have more questions please contact Jan Macleod at

Considering joining our band? The first session is free, after that it's £3 per session (£1 for concessions). Over 18s only. Membership fees are listed further down the page.

Shake it. Bang it. Slap it. We do the lot: surdo, conga, tamborim, agogô (bell), chocalho (shaker), repinique, caixa (snare) and cuica. More information on each of these instruments can be found on the instruments page.

During weekly band practice we run through current favourites and also work on new rhythms, many of which are put together by band members.  It doesn't matter if you've never played before - our inclusive practice format will get you into the groove in no time. We even provide the instruments and ear plugs.

New to practice?

Our drumming is pretty loud therefore to protect your hearing during practice please wear hearing protection.

Mnemonics: A compilation of silly phrases to help you remember our pieces. Feel free to contribute!

Signal photos: A guide to the leaders' hand signals.

Listen to some of our pieces.

Musical resources

Various online guides, MP3s, score sheets and instructional videos can be found in the members' resources section of the website.

Become a band member

    • Once you have played with us a few times why not become a member? Membership benefits include:
  • Access to Arco organised workshops.
    Each year we try to run one or more musical workshops, separate to the Wednesday practice sessions. They might cover instrument technique or new pieces.
  • Eligibility to borrow instruments.
    Members may borrow instruments provided they are returned by the next rehearsal or gig. Instruments must be signed in and out in the book just inside the main storage cupboard by a Committee member.
  • Access to the members section of the website.
    This includes information such as scores for our pieces and minutes for Committee meetings as well as AGMs.
  • Financial support towards external workshops and some Arco events.
    It is in the band’s interest that members attend external workshops and events that develop their skills and knowledge relating to carnival arts. Members are welcome to apply to the Committee for financial support to the cost of entry to such events. Individuals should notify the Committee,, four weeks in advance of the workshop that
    they are interested in attending. Members may be reimbursed up to 50% of the cost of event entry. The band has limited funds and support will be considered on a case by case basis. For some specific events, the band may advertise support for members.
  • Eligibility to vote in annual and special general meetings.
    Each year at the AGM the Committee for the following year will be elected. At the AGM or SGMs votes may be held which may influence the way the band operates. Only band members are eligible to vote. Membership can be paid on the night of the meeting but not after the meeting has started.
  • The right to stand for Committee posts.
    The Committee is formed of a few band members elected at the AGM each year. They meet throughout the year to engage in merry conversation and are responsible for the behind-the-scenes work to keep the band running. This is a great way to give something back to the band; any member can stand for a Committee post. Details of the various roles and what they entail can be found on the band website or by speaking to a current Committee member.

You don't need to become a member to play with us at practice or gigs.
If you'd like to become a member speak to the person collecting subs during the break at practice.

Band membership currently costs £10 per year (£5 concessions).

Instrument workshops: From time to time, we organise workshops to hone individuals' skills on particular instruments.

External tutors: On occasion we also invite external tutors, like the acclaimed percussionist Ravin ‘Raz’ Jayasuriya, to teach us technique and new rhythms at one-day workshops.

External courses: Finally, we also encourage members to attend external percussion workshops and encontros. Where possible we provide course or accommodation subsidies.

Arco Iris regularly produces images and videos of the band which are intended for instructional use only. These are not available on the internet outside embedded links. You can opt out any time; please contact us if you wish for your image to be removed/not included.
If anyone spots any errors, please contact the Webmaster so they can be corrected!
Arco Iris accepts no responsibility for the content of external sites.