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Bizung School of Music and Dance

Tamale, Ghana

The Bizung School of Music & Dance is thriving with more than 200 students. It is located in Tamale, Ghana, hometown of Mohammed Alidu, who has played percussion with the Playing For Change Band. 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, this place of inspiration 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. Children have a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn, as well as opportunities 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 students, classes began on May 17, 2010. Courses are currently offered in drumming, dance, xylophone, gonje, keyboard, guitar 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.

Since opening in 2010, the Bizung School continues to grow with the addition of an open-air classroom to accommodate more children and a van to go out into the surrounding areas and transport children who would not be able to participate otherwise. A music studio has been opened for the students to learn how to use recording equipment and editing software--skills they use to tell their own stories and share their music, and which advance their education and work opportunities.

Other Ways To Give

Djembe repair

Allows local craftsmen to replace the head of a djembe (hand drum)

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Building Materials

Buys materials to repair and expand the school building and outdoor classroom

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Meet our Students


Halik is from Tamale, Ghana, and has been attending the Bizung School of Music and Dance... more


Oct 07, 2016

Bizung Students Perform the Tora Dance

Students at the Bizung School of Music and Dance in Tamale, Ghana, perform the Tora Dance surrounded by colorful murals in the courtyard of the school. The Tora Dance is a traditional dance from Northern Ghana performed at the end of the harvest season, or for weddings, funerals and special occasions... more

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.

What We're Learning

  • 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...

  • 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. ...

  • 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...

  • Xylophone

    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...

  • Gonje

    The gonje is a mysterious instrument—strange and uncanny even to those among whom its playing is commonplace. The sounds, the technique, and the crafting of the gonje all make for an intensely singular aural experience. Decorated with scarves and...

  • Gahle

    Gahle refers to traditional maracas. The gourd accompanying the gonje is called gahle, although popularly the instrument is referred to as “Zabia”, the name of those who play the gahle. This instrument, with little black seeds hidden inside, is...

  • Guŋ-Gᴐŋ

    The hefty cylindrical bass guŋ-gᴐŋ carved from cedar, called brekete in Southern Ghana, has a slender hide snare (chahira) strung right across the top portion of both broad leather faces. When the curved stick strikes and the left hand slaps above...

  • Kpanlogo

    Kpanlogo is a type of drum that is associated with kpanlogo music. The drum originates from the Ga people of the Greater Accra Region in Ghana. The drum has a tapered body carved from a single piece of wood that is similar in shape to a conga. The...

  • Dagomba Lunga

    The Dagomba lunga is an hourglass shaped tension talking drum, variations of which are known more widely across the subcontinent as don-don. Fastened on the shoulder with a scarf, the lunga is fitted beneath the armpit and beaten with a curved...

Mohammed Alidu
Co-Founder, Artistic Director & Percussion Teacher

Mohammed Alidu was born and raised in Tamale, into the Bizung lineage of talking drum... more

Alex Buer
Music Teacher, Trumpet

Alex is a talented musician and teacher who plays the trumpet and also leads the army... more

Afeku "Frank" Komla
Keyboard and Theory Teacher

Frank is an Ewe man who has lived in Tamale for three years. In his youth, Frank started... more

Ahmed Abdul-Samed
Gonje Teacher

Abdul-Samed is a gonje musician, first learning this traditional horse-hair violin as a... more

Asiedu Charles
Drum Teacher

A very talented drummer and teacher, Charles was born in Tamale on June 8th, 1992 to his... more

Suali Seidu
Drum & Dance Teacher

Suali teaches percussion and dance at the Bizung School. His natural authority and... more

Adam “Dallah" Abduli

Adam Abduli, or “Dallah" as he’s known by his friends, is the nephew of... more

Ibrahim Samuel

Ibrahim Samuel, or Mr. Sammy, as the students know him, was born on the 9th of December... more

Benedict Ali Kolaan
Xylophone Teacher

Benedict Ali Kolaan is a music teacher and ethnomusicologist specializing in African... more

Prince Mahama
Guitar Teacher

Prince Mahama is something of a living legend in Northern Ghana. During the 1980s he was... more