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Program Overview

Receive state of the art training in multiple West African musical forms, including drumming, Ghanaian xylophone, and other instruments. You will be working and living at a music center on the outskirts of Accra, the capital city. In addition to small group and one-on-one instruction, you may have the opportunity to lead workshops in music styles from your home country, as well as visit local communities to experience the power of performance in West African culture. There will be plenty of time to explore Ghana, including the historic transatlantic slave trade castles of nearby Cape Coast and the ancient city of Kumasi. Housing and all meals are included, as well as workshops in traditional handicrafts such as tie-dye, batik, weaving, and kente cloth making. The minimum duration for this training program is one week, and the maximum will depend on the visa regulations based on your nationality.

“I could not be happier with my experience in Ghana. It wasn’t always easy and definitely required me to be open to new things and personal growth, but I learned so much and met amazing people. I would highly recommend this program to anyone.”

Performing Arts Points of Interest

Alliance Française d’Accra

The Alliance Française d’Accra is a cultural center aimed at preserving and educating the public on French language and Franco-Ghanaian culture. The center offers dance performances as well as art exhibits. The center also offers French courses from beginner to specialized advanced levels. The alliance organizes 5 festivals a year: the Francophonie Festival, Live in Accra Jazz Festival, Gastronomy Festival, Future Fest Electronic Music Festival, and the Accra Hip Hop Week.

Chez Afrique

Close to the University of Ghana, Chez Afrique is a restaurant that hosts local bands, DJs, and other artists daily. Music ranges from jazz, highlife, reggae, and “random” mixes.

+233 Jazz Bar

Named after the Ghanaian area code, +233 Jazz Bar is local bar that hosts bands six days a week. The bar is two stories and has outside seating as well. Music styles include jazz, blues, highlife, and, rarely, some hip hop. This is a great place to listen to live music, meet locals, and try Ghanaian cuisine.

PAA Home Base

Our Ghana programs are based at the Dagara Music Center (DMC) in the village of Medie just outside the capital city of Accra. The family of our Site Director – Bernard Woma – will greet you warmly and welcome you as a member of the family during your stay. You will be provided all meals during your program, and the center has its own generator and water tank to protect against power and plumbing outages. Medie is an incredibly diverse area, and the center is just down the street from a Pentecostal church, a Krishna temple, a Catholic church and a bar! Public transportation will get you from the center to downtown Accra where you can explore a wide variety of markets and performance venues.

About the Location

Ghana is bursting with life, and home to a variety of ethnic groups with a wide range of cultural diversity. Blessed with extraordinary amounts of gold, the country helped give this area of Africa its name: the Gold Coast. Ghana is a land of plains and low plateaus covered by rain forests in the west and Lake Volta to the east—one of the world’s largest man-made lakes. Accra is home to over 3 million Ghanaians, a bustling and increasingly modern city with many of the amenities you would expect in your own place of residence.

The music center is located on the outskirts of the city in a residential area called Medie with easy access to the city center, as well as nearby rural areas where you will be able to experience village life. Medie has a diverse population of residents from all parts of the country, as well as bordering countries. Within several blocks of the music center is a Pentecostal Church, a Krishna Temple, a bar, and a Catholic Church!

The music center is a walled compound with a large family home in the middle. The center is run by the legendary Ghanaian percussionist Bernard Woma and his family, who reside in the home. The center has its own generator as a backup when power outages occur in Accra, and a water well and tower in case of water shortages. Facilities include a wing of dormitory style accommodations, a large gazebo for music and dance classes, an expansive concrete stage for rehearsals and performances, an open-air covered dining area with picnic tables, and a handicraft center with looms and other tools for weaving, tie-dyeing, and other traditional arts and crafts.

Housing

All components of your accommodations are included on the program, including shared housing in dormitory style rooms with bunk beds, shared bathrooms (Western-style flush toilets and overhead showers), running water and electricity, and meals. These accommodations are located within the walls of the music center, so no travel to the site is necessary! Your meals will be cooked by the family who runs the center, and you will be invited to share meals with the family. There is also a bus stop near the center for easy access to the center of Accra.

Roommates

Depending on when you decide to travel, your room may be shared with another international musician or dancer of the same sex. Outside of our summer sessions, it is common to only have one PAA participant on site at a time, while during the summer we usually have a handful of participants joining a larger group of a dozen or more.

A Day in the Life



The Participant Experience

Sitting on the front porch of the Woma family home in the middle of the music center, you hear the sounds of children laughing and playing. A warm breeze brings the smells of fires cooking the evening meal, and whips some dust into the air.

The sounds and smells of Ghana are difficult to forget, and the hospitality you experience from your hosts will live in your memory forever. Your days will be spent in morning and afternoon training sessions with lunch in the middle, and your evenings will be filled with laughter and storytelling, as you watch (and sometimes participate in!) the cooking of the meal for the center’s guests. Music is only the beginning of what you will learn during your time in Ghana, as you will have a chance to try your hand at a wide variety of handicrafts and other cultural art-forms. By the time your last day rolls around, you will not want to leave, but we hope you bring the lessons you learn and the musical styles you gain back to your community at home, and share a little piece of Ghana with your friends and family.

On Arrival

You will book your flight to arrive at Kotoka International Airport (ACC) in Accra. A PAA representative will be waiting for you in the arrivals areas with a sign that has your name and our logo on it. You will be driven to the dance center, and will spend the first day unpacking, settling in, and getting to know the family and workers at the center. The following day will include an orientation to Accra, day to day life in Medie where the center is located, health and safety, and other details relating to your specific program.

A Typical Day

For your remaining time at the center, you will be invited to a morning and afternoon training session every day, lasting three hours each. With the rest of your free time, you can explore the charming small town of Medie, attend performances in Accra, and travel to landmarks throughout the country with travel recommendations made by PAA representatives at the music center.

Host Group

The music center where you will be training was founded over 10 years ago by Bernard Woma, one of the most famous players of the Dagara gyil, a xylophone native to the northwest region of Ghana. You will receive instruction directly from this master musician and dancer himself (when he is at the center and not touring internationally), as well as more than a dozen highly trained experienced musicians from all over Ghana. Guest artists visit frequently to offer courses in batik, tie-dying, kente weaving, drum making, and blacksmithing. The center is also near several historical castles such as the Cape Coast Castle, as well as a number of beautiful Atlantic beaches.

Support Staff

Support Staff

Support Staff

Support Staff

Testimonials

I learned so much, not only art, music and dance, but important life lessons. Everyone was so giving and accommodating. The teachers were really thorough with dancing instructions…I learned how to make Adinkra prints, batik, calabash bowl and jewelry art, and basket weaving. I had the most amazing and personal experience!

“During these three weeks, I learned more about music than I had in three years of University. The experience was not just one of great significance and growth, but one that I cannot wait to repeat!”

“I could not be happier with my experience in Ghana. It wasn’t always easy and definitely required me to be open to new things and personal growth, but I learned so much and met amazing people. I would highly recommend this program to anyone.”

From the blog

Dance

2014 Video Competition: Video Submission of the Week, Week of September 1st

Enjoy the sites and sounds of our Ghana program with this awesome video created by this past summer’s dance participant, Samantha Pulsifer!

Music

Music in Ghana

In July 2014, I joined PAA Ghana Site Director Bernard Woma and his family at the Dagara Music Centre in Ghana. After more than a day of journeying from the UK, I saw Bernard waiting at Accra airport with a…

Music

Making Music in Mpumalanga

Alison Feuerwerker is a violinist and music teacher from Ontario, Canada, and she was a PAA music volunteer in South Africa in January and February of 2016.   On a January morning I am singing along with Toto’s song “Africa” while I do dishes.…

Music

Mid-Project Reflections on Teaching and Confidence

Diana McLaughlin just finished her sophomore year as a Music Education and Spanish double major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is in Costa Rica as a music volunteer from May until July 2016. I arrived in San José,…

Program Dates

Fall 2018

Session Application Deadline Start Date
Session 4 Oct 08 2018 Dec 07 2018

Important Fall 2018 Dates

Summer 2019

Session Application Deadline Start Date
Session 1 Mar 05 2019 May 05 2019
Session 2 May 21 2019 Jul 21 2019
Session 3 Jun 04 2019 Aug 04 2019

Important Summer 2019 Dates

Program Cost

Description Cost
One Week $2,195
Two Weeks $2,960
Three Weeks $3,725
Four Weeks $4,490
Five Weeks $5,255
Six Weeks $6,020
Seven Weeks $6,785
Eight Weeks $7,550
Nine Weeks $8,315
Ten Weeks $9,080
Eleven Weeks $9,845
Twelve Weeks $10,610

Apply today — How the process works

APPLY ONLINE
Submit a simple online application

INTERVIEW
Schedule a live video interview with a Program Coordinator

MATERIALS
Upload program specific materials to an online portal

ACCEPTANCE
Receive your aceptance decision and begin your journey!

How the Process Works

To apply, click the “Apply Now” button below. You will fill out a simple initial application online and pay a deposit that is refundable if you are not accepted, and will be applied toward your overall program cost if you are accepted (not an additional fee). At this point, we will ask you to send us the following materials:

  • Your resume/CV
  • Music video (optional, not used for acceptance decision, but to give instructors sense of current level)
  • Your availability in U.S. Eastern Time for a 30 minute video interview with your Program Coordinator.
Apply Now

Application Tips

  1. Be clear in your interview about your goals for the program. We work hard to prepare your hosts and give them the chance to design an experience that is customized to you as much as possible. To do this, we need a clear picture of who you are and what you want out of your time in Ghana (and don’t want!).
  2. The Skype interviews are our first face-to-face impression of you. Show up on time, dress well, and be personable.
  3. If you choose to submit a video, you should highlight the musical style you do best, and should choose a high quality video with a strong opening. Videos with other musicians are fine, as long as you clearly identify yourself and have adequate solo time. We prefer videos to be uploaded to an online platform such as YouTube to allow us to easily share with the dance center instructors.
Request Information

Eligibility Requirements

  • Age

    Participants must be 18 or over the day they begin the program.

  • GPA / Student Status

    There is no GPA requirement for this program, students and non-students are welcome to apply.

  • Language

    There is no foreign language requirement for this program. All training is offered in English.

  • Experience

    We give preference to applicants with at least one year of music experience, but we welcome newcomers with no music experience. A video showing your current skill level is helpful for preparing the instructors, but not required for admission to the program.

  • Motivation

    We are looking for open-minded, flexible applicants who can clearly convey their passion for music and an acute interest in international travel and exposure to new ideas.

Apply Now