My trip to Ghana through Performing Arts Abroad was one of the most influential experiences of my life. It was incredibly life changing, and I will take those experiences with me for the rest of my life. The people at the DMC are incredibly kind, and passionate about what they do. Everything about my experience surpassed all of my expectations. – Tommy Socolof, Summer 2019 Participant, Undergraduate in Music Education
My trip to Ghana was one of the most influential experiences of my life.
My time spent at the DMC was irreplaceable, and made for a once-in-a-lifetime experience I will always cherish. Not only was I able to learn new instruments, dances, and songs from amazing teachers, but I was also able to explore a new culture and landscape with a group of people I will always consider friends. By visiting local schools and helping to teach music games and activities to students, I was able to gain experience that has helped me in my education and job. Overall, I would recommend the DMC to everyone, as attending it is an experience all of us can learn from and love. – Brenna Moran, Summer 2019 Participant, Undergraduate in Vocal Performance
The DMC surpassed all my expectations in every way. The music was challenging, but the teachers were patient and skilled at breaking it down. The staff was warm and helpful and the food was fantastic. I can’t recommend the DMC enough. Go and you will not regret it! – Sarah Stevens, Summer 2019 Participant, Professional Music Educator
The DMC surpassed all my expectations in every way.
The Dagara Music Center is a remarkable location for West African cultural study. The DMC is the perfect cross-section of cultural immersion and a welcoming family environment. The entire DMC Staff has always been extremely accommodating to specific needs, including dietary restrictions, housing, and research interests and skill levels. I love these people and I can’t wait to return again soon! – Dr. Shane Jones, Director of Percussion at the University of Tennessee at Martin
For anyone interested in studying Ghanian music, dancing, and singing, the Dagara Music Center must be on the top of your list. The staff and teachers are experienced in hosting American students and extremely welcoming in sharing their culture, leading excursions, and providing meals and accommodations. – Chelsea Jones, Lecture of Music, University of Tennessee at Martin
The Dagara Music Center was a place free of expectation, where I had the freedom to be entirely myself and learn in the best way possible. The teachers taught me more than just music; they helped me learn about their culture, their languages and let me into their lives. I could not have found kinder, more welcoming, caring and generous hosts in Ghana to call my African family. – Liz Karney, Summer Session 2016 Participant
I had the freedom to be entirely myself and learn in the best way possible.
In summer 2012 I stayed at the Dagara Music Center (DMC) for two weeks when I travelled to Ghana my first time. I had developed a relationship with Bernard Woma, the DMC founder, in the United States, and I had an interest in pursuing topics related to Ghana, sustainability, and the gyil in future graduate studies. At every step of the process, Bernard and the DMC staff assisted me in whatever way they could, from providing necessary documentation to acquire a visa and purchase a plane ticket, picking me up at the airport, cooking my meals, taking me on tours of the surrounding community, and of course teaching high-quality and intensive music and dance lessons. But most importantly, I can sincerely say that every single one of the DMC staff became a dear friend.
Since then, I have been back to Ghana three additional times; once in 2017 with a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship, again in 2018 to conduct dissertation research, and then most recently in 2018-2019 with a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Award, all together totaling one year in country. While I have not stayed at the DMC since 2012, I often visit to see my friends, to take a lesson with Eddie and Jerome, or to conduct interviews for my research. During this time, I have witnessed countless independent travelers and students affiliated with larger institutions, such as NGO’s and universities, come to Ghana for their first time via the DMC, and in every instance I see them making the same types of transformational experiences I had and continue to have every time I return to Ghana. Not only is this something I have witnessed first-hand, but it is also something that my research informants consistently and voluntarily articulate to me. – Alex Smith, D.M.A., Assistant Professor, University of Central Missouri
The Dagara Music Center is one of the most valuable international musical and cultural resources I have found around the globe. The expertise, professionalism, and kindness of the faculty and staff at the DMC make it an ideal place to live and learn about Ghanaian culture. The Center is a place to not only learn about Dagara music, but to learn about all aspects of Ghanaian culture, from Ewe, Ga, Ashanti, and Dagara gyil playing, drumming, singing, and dancing. I first traveled to the DMC in 2008 and returned for a second visit in 2016. When compared with my international research in Brazil, China, and Trinidad, the thing that sets the Dagara Music Center apart is the quality of the teachers. Not only are they local experts of the musical styles they teach, but they are also experienced instructors who know how to communicate with foreigners with efficiency and articulation. This is very rare in international musical research. Beyond classes and lessons, I found all of the faculty and staff to be extraordinarily friendly and welcoming. Coming to a new continent can be very intimidating, and the folks at the DMC made everyone feel at home. We would regularly take trips through the local town of Medie or neighboring villages to shop, eat, and see more of daily Ghanaian life. By the end of both of my trips I felt that every person at the Center was more than just a teacher, but a friend. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in Ghanaian culture to visit the Dagara Music Center. My time spent there changed me not only as a musician, but as a person, and is an experience I will be forever grateful for. – Shane Jones, Summer 2016 Student
Coming to a new continent can be very intimidating, and the folks at the DMC made everyone feel at home.
Getting to spend 10 weeks in Ghana at the wonderful Dagara Music Center is one of the best things that has happened to me thus far. From the second I stepped off of the plane I was welcomed by the most kind hearted and loving people I’ve ever had the privilege of coming in contact with. The classes are of the highest quality, with teachers that are patient no matter what your background in dance and/or music may be. We were provided with tours around Ghana that were highly informative and inclusive to make our experience that much more meaningful. My time in Ghana forced me to step out of my comfort zone, which was for the best because I learned and grew more than I ever might have back in the US. By immersing myself into the local culture it taught me to be more independent, patient, confident, sociable, a better musician and dancer, but most importantly how to be happy. The experiences I had and the people I met at the DMC have shaped me into a better person and changed my life forever. I am happy to call not only Ghana and the DMC my second home, but also my family. – Elizabeth Willis-PAA 2016 Participant
By immersing myself into the local culture it taught me to be more independent, patient, confident, sociable, a better musician and dancer, but most importantly how to be happy.
I loved learning at the DMC in Medie! The teachers did a great job teaching the music, dance, and culture of Dagara people while making sure I knew it wasn’t the culture of all of Ghana. I learned to check my generalizations. I don’t know all of Ghanaian music, but thanks to my time at the DMC, I know some Dagara music! – Lydia Sadoff, Summer 2016 Student
As a general music teacher, I initially registered for the Dagara Music Center’s summer program to expand the set of skills I bring to the classroom. I was excited about learning djembe and gyil, and eager to acquire authentic West African songs to sing with my students back home. Although I did spend countless hours learning a repertoire of songs, memorizing rhythms, and practicing gyil, I vastly underestimated the impact that time spent at the DMC would have on me.
When I was in college, Bernard would say “we have a saying in Ghana: bad dancing never hurt the ground!” however until I spent time in Ghana, I had never truly been in a place where there is freedom to explore music and enjoy music with no limitations or pressure. I witnessed the beauty of a culture and lifestyle truly intertwined with music.
My alarm clock was the rhythmic sweeping of the women cleaning every inch of the center early in the morning. I could hear the students in school singing to start the day of classes. The melodies of the drums as they accompanied dance rehearsals were a constant backdrop to daily life. In church the music and movement created an atmosphere of celebration throughout the service. During funerals, women and men demonstrated their grief through the harsh, jagged movements of traditional dancing.
Music serves as such a powerful conduit for human experience. The real impact of my time at the DMC originated in the relationships with the people who taught us and took care of us, and the friends we made. The family of the DMC is loving, kind, accepting, and open-hearted. In three short weeks, I have truly been inspired to be a better musician, a better friend, and a more loving person. – Melanie Relyea-Summer 2017 Participant
In three short weeks, I have truly been inspired to be a better musician, a better friend, and a more loving person.
The DMC provided me with an incomparable, culturally rich musical experience. For those who seek authenticity, look no further. Bernard Woma was a mentor to me; an unstoppable voice, a virtuosic teacher. His DMC, with a vision to preserve and propagate the tradition of the Dagara peoples, welcomes anyone, from Art Teachers to Professional Musicians – the DMC has something for you. I learned from my DMC experience life lessons and musicianship which guide me ubiquitously in my everyday life. If you are considering a DMC experience of your own, allow my testimony to nudge you in the right direction! – Cole Parker, Summer 2017 Student
It was a wonderful cultural immersion experience for a non-musician. – Jeffrey Johnson, Summer 2016 Student