Miles Arntzen (left) plays the boba drum accompanied by his instructor, Elike.
Over the years, one of the things I’ve loved most about leading the ThisWorldMusic/UMass Amherst Study in Africa program is getting to know the participants. Sure, studying African music and dance is a thrill, but it’s the people, not just the rhythms, that stick with me long after I’ve returned.
On the most recent winter study abroad trip in Ghana, West Africa, we had a seminary student from Indianapolis, Brent Walsh, who, as luck would have it, turned out to be a professional photographer. And who studies abroad in a place as visually stunning as Ghana without bringing along a camera?
Here are 5 highlights from Brent’s inspiring photos, each representing a different aspect of what it’s like to study in Africa. READ MORE →
Had a great time performing with my student African Drumming ensembles last week at ZUMIX, the community music school in inner city East Boston where I started the African Drumming program in 2007. ZUMIX has grown a lot since then, recently winning the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House.
Check out these three videos, the first featuring the ZUMIX beginning African Drumming Ensemble performing an adapted version of Gahu, a recreational style of music from the Ewe people of Ghana, West Africa:
And here’s the ZUMIX intermediate African Drumming Ensemble performing Atsiagbekor (a k a Agbekor), an Ewe war piece: READ MORE →
3. Arranging for Performance Although it can require intensive preparation to play even the basic ostinato parts in many polyphonic, polyrhythmic styles of drum ensemble music, holding a Western audience’s attention with highly repetitive music, no matter how beautiful or complex, frequently presents a challenge. READ MORE →
Just got some really nice pics back from the University School of Milwauke (USM) residency I did at the beginning of the school year. This project was in collaboration with the USM Music Department and Miriam Altman, the Middle School Choral Director there and a student of mine on the 2010 ThisWorldMusic/UMass Summer in Ghana. The residency — which combined student clinics with staff/faculty professional development workshops and assembly presentations — is part of a larger project with USM which includes a service learning trip to Ghana next summer for ten of its teachers.