Bizung School of Music and Dance
Our second school on the continent of Africa was recently built in Tamale, Ghana, hometown of the Playing For Change Band's percussionist, Mohammed Alidu. Alidu is a descendant of a long line of talking drum chiefs known as the "Bizung" that have lived in the area for more than 1,000 years. In his family's honor, the school has aptly been named the Bizung School of Music and Dance.
The school offers music and dance classes that are rooted in the traditional style of Northern Ghana. The school provides the children of Tamale a safe environment to learn in, as well as the opportunity to share their cultural and musical traditions with other children around the world.
Construction of the Bizung School was completed in February of 2010, and after hiring teachers, planning curriculums, and enrolling 150 students, classes began on May 17, 2010. Courses are currently offered in drumming, dance, xylophone, gonje, and vocals. For many students of the Bizung School of Music and Dance, taking classes here is their first time attending a school of any kind, as there are currently no other tuition-free schools in the northern region of Ghana.
Photos of the Opening Day of the Bizung School
Photos of the first month of classes at the Bizung School
Photos from the Bizung School in September 2011
OTHER WAYS TO GIVE
Allows local craftsmen to replace the head of a djembe (hand drum)
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Buys materials to repair and expand the school building and outdoor classroom
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MEET WITH A STUDENT
Bizung School of Music & Dance
Bakissu is 12 years old and classes first began at the Bizung School she has demonstrated a very special talent to her teachers and the other students. Bakissu is studying the Gonje (traditional violin), xylophone, percussion and is already a good singer. She is a real leader and she traveled with other students from the Bizung School to perform in two festivals outside of Tamale and represent… more
Jul 29, 2013
Bizung School All the Way!
by Shauna Murray
The Bizung School Band recently competed in the New Music Ghana competition in Tamale and won 2nd place! With the help of their teachers, the students in the band put a new spin on a traditional Ghanian song, blending local instruments including xylophone, gonje, kplango drums and djembe, with Western instruments like keyboards, electric guitar, bass, and drums. We think the song came out great, and the judges agreed! Check out the performance that earned them a top spot in the competition…
LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY
Tamale is a city with more than 300, 000 inhabitants and is the capital of the Northern region of Ghana. The main languages spoken in the area are Dagbani and English, and most of the inhabitants are Muslims. The people of Tamale live by the sun. They wake at 5:30AM for morning prayers, and go to sleep shortly after sunset. The Bizung School of Music and Dance is located in an area of town called the Norrip Village. Every afternoon from Monday to Friday, dozens of kids attend classes at the school to study music and dance. Most of the students live in the area but some of them come from other parts of Tamale to attend classes traveling by bicycle, walking or carried by one of the teachers.
Traditional Music and Dance
The Bizung School of Music and Dance offers classes in traditional music, focusing on traditional instruments such as talking drum, djembé, palogo, gonge and xylophone. Classes are also given in dance, chant and keyboard. The kids also learn how...… more
The Jera Dance
Jera is a potent dance. As with most dances in the North, the history of Jera is deep, obscure and mysterious. Most sources trace the origin to one particular hunter called Nanja who, while in the bush, came across an ill omen: group of dwarfs. ...… more
The Adowa Dance
Surely one of the most stately, graceful, dances in West Africa, the Akan “Adowa” takes its name from the impressive animal, the antelope. With its silent, swift movements, the antelope is evocative of the ideal warrior, and that is how this...… more
The xylophones at Bizung are not indigenous to the tribes of the Northern Region. We brought them here from Lawra in the Upper West region of Ghana, close to the borders of Burkina Faso and Cote D’Ivoire. The big frames and the dangling gourds...… more
Abdul leads the school and teaches percussion, dance & chant. He got into music at a young age & studied in Ghana & abroad, then began work as a music instructor & traveled the world to perform music & dance. He is a project manager at the Youth Home in Tamale & chairman of the Dance Association of the Northern Region of Ghana.
Descendant of a lineage of drummer chiefs from the North of Ghana, Alidu resides in the US since 2005 where he formed his own band, and tours with the Playing For Change Band. In 2009 Alidu brought the project of a music school in his hometown and since the school opened, he teaches there during several months every year.
Benedict Ali Kolaan
Benedict Ali Kolaan is a music teacher and ethnomusicologist specializing in African music. He teaches rudiments and theory of music--one of Bizung’s more formal course offerings--as well as traditional folk songs from around Ghana. B.A. Kolaan received an award for his voluntary service to help send blind children to school.
Suali teaches percussion and dance at the school. His natural authority and experience with music allow him to teach different instruments to our students. Suali has been a music instructor for almost fifteen years and currently combines his work at the school with a position of music instructor at the Youth Home in Tamale.
Abdul-Samed is a gonje musician—first learning this traditional horse-hair violin as a child from his grandfathers. He is a master in his field & regularly performs at traditional ceremonies and festivals around Ghana. Samed has released two albums in Northern Ghana which blend the sonorous gonje with Western Instrumentation.
The legendary Prince Mahama got his start as a member of the Adom Professionals, an all-blind band that traveled extensively around Ghana. He has the honor of being the first musician in the Northern Region to sing originally composed songs in the Dagbani language with a Western band. Prince plays guitar, keyboard, bass & drums.
Christiana Kofi has been working at Bizung since it opened as a secretary. She is a trained singer in church choirs and enjoys gospel music. Since she began at Bizung, Christy has also developed an interest in traditional music and enjoys many Dagbani songs.