Archive for the ‘creating’ Category

Introducing The Gahu Project

Sunday, April 7th, 2019
picture of Gboba drum in the middle of a circle of dancers

pilot workshop at a Waterloo Region high school.

I am thrilled to be leading the research component of The Gahu Project. The Gahu Project is a racial justice community music initiative in the Waterloo Region of Ontario that brings together youth, professional artists and arts organizations to explore and discover the music of Ghana. Through a series of workshops, high school students will engage in conversations about racial justice and learn Gahu, a recreational and social dance music of the Ewe people of Ghana which combines drumming, dancing and singing. The event will culminate on Music Monday (May 6) as over 400 local high school students will gather at Kitchener City Hall Square and be led by Ghanaian master drummer Kwasi Dunyo in a mass musical experience of Ghanaian drumming, dancing and singing.

The research that I am undertaking uses arts-based participatory action research to centre the voices of African, Caribbean, and Black identifying (ACBI) students in examining how The Gahu Project affects high school climates from a racial justice lens. The goal of the research is to strengthen relationships among high school students while also understanding challenges and possibilities in creating more inclusive high school climates for ACBI students to thrive. The specific objectives are:

  1. To create participatory music performances that contribute to understanding and improving the high school climates that foster the wellbeing of ACBI students.
  2. To identify ACBI student experiences of wellbeing in relation to learning environments, relationships among the students and school staff, and school safety/physical environment.
  3. To generate policy and curriculum recommendations for WRDSB that will enhance its efforts to foster inclusive high school cultures and wellbeing of ACBI students across the district.

The research component of The Gahu Project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Follow the Gahu Project on Instagram: @thegahuproject or #thegahuproject.


taking the risk in vocal improv

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

I was in Kananaskis at the Fine Arts Council conference of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. I gave two workshops on vocal and movement improv, and we had a grand time. In the first session, I introduced participants to the fundamentals of circle-singing–the improvisation technique of Bobby McFerrin (here’s my favourite Bobby McFerrin video about the pentatonic scale). My group of music and drama teachers were so amazing! No one had sung in this style before, and by the end of the session, we were free-form grooving and experimenting, with one participant improvising a whole song!

In the second session, I led a group through a series of voice and movement improvisation techniques to use with students in grads 4-8, to help them explore a wide range of sounds, and to help shy students feel more comfortable using their voices. We imitated soundscapes and we made machines. We also went for a sound walk around the glorious property of the conference centre, set in the heart of the Rockies. We reassembled and created a soundscape of the sounds that we heard. And we brainstormed ways that we could move these sounds into composition, and integrate creative exploration into the music curriculum.  Such generative ideas!

I’m keen to explore the possibilities of creative sound exploration and improvised music in classrooms. If you do work like this, let me know! What works? What have been challenges? I’m so excited to continue singing and exploring the possibilities for vocal improv in music classrooms and in my own practice. Special shout-out to Karen Porkka, who leads the Vocal Improv Network of Edmonton, a group that I’m now singing with regularly, and loving. Feels so great to get back to vocal improv, and to challenge myself and grow my practice and my pedagogy more.