Program Overview

Bring in the New Year jamming by moonlight with a traditional music festival in a remote Ghanaian village, followed by state-of-the-art training at a music center in Accra. The Ghanaian gyil xylophone originated in the northern part of the country on the border of Burkina Faso, where you will travel to participate in an annual festival celebrating the heritage and performing arts of the Dagara people, as well as many other cultural celebrations. You will fly into the capital city Accra, then spend the next day traveling to the northernmost region of Ghana where you will stay in the traditional dwellings of our site director Bernard Woma, who was born in a room near the one you will be living in.

The first week of the program will be spent enjoying the music and dance festivals, rituals, and initiations, and learning traditional Ghanaian xylophone playing and drumming. You will then return to Accra for a week of intensive instruction by highly skilled professional Ghanaian xylophone players and master drummers.

You will spend the second week of the program receiving small group instruction from professional xylophone players and master drummers at a music center in the capital city, Accra. You won’t find another program like this out there, so apply soon before it fills up!

“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.


The first half of your program will be spent in a small village several hours west of the town of Wa, near the border of Burkina Faso in Ghana’s northwest corner.

About the Location

Ghana is teeming with life, and is home to a variety of ethnic groups with a wide range of cultural diversity. Blessed with an abundance 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 in the east—one of the world’s largest man-made lakes. Accra, home to over 3 million Ghanaians, is a bustling and increasingly modern city with many of the amenities you would expect in your own place of residence.

For the first week of the program, you will be attending and participating in traditional music and festivals, rituals, initiations, and cultural celebrations in the very northern tip of Ghana on the border of Burkina Faso. This area is the birthplace of an ancient ritual and social xylophone called the gyil, which forms the center of many ceremonies of the Dagara people of Northern Ghana. This area is noteworthy for its mud brick dwellings, agricultural practices, and traditional ways of life.

For the second week of the program, you will be training at the music center in Accra. The music center is located on the outskirts of the city in a residential community 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 one block of the music center is a Krishna Temple, a Pentecostal Church, and a bar!

The music center itself 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 training 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.


During the first week of the program, you will be living in a homestay with the director of our Center, who was born and raised in the compound where your accommodations will be. You will experience traditional village living, eat meals with a family outdoors, share stories around a fire at night, enjoy the stars with no light pollution for miles and miles, and wake up with the roosters at daybreak.

On the second week of the program, you will stay in dormitory-style accommodations in the music and dance center where you may share a room with several other participants, depending on the number enrolled. The dorm hall is located in the same compound as the Director’s home, and most space is shared communally by participants and the family. Meals are shared outside at picnic tables or in an indoor dining room. There is electricity supported by a generator owned by the Center to protect against power failures, and running water is supplied by a privately owned borewell. There are modern toilets and showers, and one shower with hot water available.

All meals are included in the price of this program.


Depending on the size of the group, your room may be shared with other international musicians or dancers of the same sex. This winter session has lower enrollment than our other sessions, meaning you will have more personal attention and a unique individual experience.

A Day in the Life

The Participant Experience

Sitting on the front porch of the Woma family home in the middle of the dance center in Accra, 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. In the far northwest corner of Ghana, you count down the seconds to the end of the year as you sit around a fire looking up at the milky way shine the brightest you’ve ever seen it…

The sounds, sights, and smells of Ghana are difficult to forget, and the hospitality you experience from your hosts will live in your memory forever. Your days in the village will be filled with traditions and ceremonies surrounding an annual dance and music festival, and jam sessions lasting late into the night. Your days in Accra 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. Dance 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 dance vocabulary 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 in Accra (ACC) on December 27th. 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 music center, and will spend the first day/evening resting and preparing to travel to the village. On the next day, you will spend the entire day traveling to the far north of Ghana on a bus, accompanied by a PAA representative. Depending on bus schedules, you will either spend the night in a guesthouse in the city of Wa or continue straight to the village.

A Typical Day

From December 29th to January 2nd you will participate in a variety of activites stemming from an annual traditional music and dance festival, initiations, and cultural celebrations. Nights will be spent sitting outside with other program participants, our site director, and his family. Without electricity or light pollution for many miles, the stars will be magnificent!

On January 3rd, you will make the trip back to Accra accompanied by a PAA representative. From January 4th to 8th, you will attend two three-hour training sessions each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The rest of your time will be spent getting to know the music center family, exploring Accra, learning traditional handicraft techniques, and participating in jam sessions. The Winter Break program officially ends on January 10th, but you have the option to continue training at the music center for additional weeks, at a cost of $765 per week.

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 himself, as well as many other experienced musicians from all over Ghana. Guest artists visit frequently to offer courses in batik, tye-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.

In northern Ghana, you will be hosted by Bernard and accompanied to the music and dance festivals by members of our Ghanaian staff. This program gives the special chance to be hosted in both a traditional rural village and urban setting.

Support Staff

Support Staff

Support Staff

Support Staff



“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.”

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!

“I was very satisfied with my travel experience. I found my home in Ghana and I look forward to more traveling experiences there. I enjoyed the activities. I enjoyed the dance classes as well as the singing classes. I fully enjoyed my time in Ghana.”

From the blog


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 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…


Open Minds, Open Hearts: Discovering the Meaning of Volunteering

Mona Sangesland is now an active flutist and teaching artist in the Boston region.  She is currently finishing her Master of Music degree at the New England Conservatory. This summer she participated in the Music Volunteering in Costa Rica program. “If you’ve…


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.…

Program Dates

Winter 2018

Session Application Deadline Start Date End Date
Winter 2018/2019 Nov 01 2018 Dec 27 2018 Jan 10 2019

Important Winter 2018 Dates

Program Cost

Description Cost
Winter 2018/2019 $3,325
Additional weeks (per week) $765

Apply today — How the process works

Submit a simple online application

Schedule a live video interview with a Program Coordinator

Upload program specific materials to an online portal

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 include sufficient 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. An audition video showing your current skill level is helpful, but not required.

  • 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