African Music for a Culturally Responsive Classroom

Academic Enrichment Grant

 2022-2023 Project Summary

Karyn Lawrence

Bryan Elementary School • Omaha, NE

This project uses music education to engage students in active learning and ethnomusicology, or the study of music of different cultures. An ethnomusicologist and composer will work with an educator to provide week-long residencies and the purchase of authentic West African kpanlogo drums and a gyil (xylophone) for student use. Students will have the opportunity to learn to play West African music authentically as part of a West African music curriculum during the school day and the Bryan African Music Ensemble, an after school club for third through fifth grade students.

During the residency students in grades K-5 will explore the culture and music of Ghana through singing, drumming, and dancing. Students will learn about life in Ghana through storytelling. A core group of students will have the opportunity to represent the entire school. These students will receive additional instruction every day outside of regular music class time. At the end of the week, the core group will perform for all Bryan students, staff and families. By participating in this residency, students will discover a new capacity for achievement and self-expression in themselves through their active engagement in learning. Students will develop listening skills and coordination, work together as a group, and gain the confidence that comes with working toward a performance.

The residency will be a catalyst for students to communicate more effectively by teaching them how to listen, respect for the needs of others to have their own musical and personal space, how to lead and follow, and how to focus and concentrate at a very high level. In addition, the musical experiences will offer students cultural enrichment and a broader exposure to the world around them.

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