For the past two weeks, the students at the Bizung School of Music and Dance and I have been working on a new song. The name of the song is “Zanma Bahi Kan Chan Torani” and it is a traditional song that is accompanied by the Tora Dance.

We have been workshopping the piece to build it in an ensemble style. Traditionally it is played only with lunga and gungon but the children are now learning to adapt the chant and the rhythms to a melody for the xylophone, gonje and keyboards as well as developing supporting rhythms for kpanlogo, djembe and dundun drums along with the traditional lunga and gungon drums.

It is always important to understand the meaning of the music and so this song simply means Let go of me, I am going to dance Tora. The story goes that there was a young girl who loved dancing and singing. One day she met a young boy on her way to dance. He began pulling her hand and she said to the boy “Leave me alone I am going to dance Tora.”

Bakissu Alhassan has been a student at the Bizung School since its opening. She has excelled in learning all of the disciplines at the school and has become a good leader. Despite losing her father in the Fall of last year and moving far away from the school, she has continued her music studies even though she must travel over 15miles each way to come to classes. Her dedication is remarkable. She shines in particular when playing the xylophone, dancing and singing. She has helped the whole class to understand the rhythms and melodies that I am teaching and has worked out a couple of xylophone melodies on her own!

Mohammed Alidu