The week of January 6, Carlthorp students were introduced to the music of Africa, in particular Ghana, by Mr. Sowah Mensah who joined us for a week-long musical residency focused on drumming and singing. Students learned about Ghanaian geography, people, and language as well as the role and function of music in traditional Ghanaian culture.
Mr. Sowah Mensah is an ethnomusicologist, composer, and Master Drummer from Ghana. He is the Director of African Music at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was James Marsh Professor–at–Large at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, from 2004 to 2010. In West Africa, Sowah has taught music in both Ghana and Nigeria and played with the Ghana National Symphony Orchestra. He has performed extensively in the United States and Africa, as well as in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Mr. Mensah’s residency culminated in an inspiring all-school performance for parents and neighbors. Each grade level performed as well as a core group of 5th and 6th graders who voluntarily dedicated their recess and lunch breaks for four days to rehearsing and learning drum technique from Mr. Mensah. The faculty, staff and parents alike were all proud of our students for taking advantage of the opportunity presented to them and for all they accomplished in a short time.
While teaching students simple drum technique, Mr. Mensah’s residency also created a catalyst for students to communicate better by teaching them: how to listen; respect for the needs of others to have their own musical and personal space; how to lead and follow; and, how to focus and concentrate at a very high level. In addition, the musical experience offered students cultural enrichment and a broader exposure to the world around them. Special thanks to Dr. Baxani and Ms. Lin Dale from our music department and Ms. Kuolt, Director of Service Learning for coordinating this opportunity for our students.