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African Drumming and Dance

Key Information

July 2–July 6, 2018


Sowah Mensah Sowah Mensah is an ethnomusicologist, composer and a “Master Drummer” from Ghana, West Africa. Sowah has taught music in both Ghana and Nigeria and is currently a music professor at both Macalester College, and the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN where he also directs each school’s African Music Ensemble. In addtion, he is currently a James Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT and directs the African Music Ensemble at the University of Minnesota. Sowah is the director of Sankofa, a Ghanaian Folklore and Dance Ensemble in the Twin Cities and a member of Speaking in Tongues, a four-piece group based out of the Twin Cities that uses two percussionists, a bassist and a Chinese pipa player. Sowah enjoys an active performance career. In August 2003 Sowah toured Beijing, China with the Kenmore Wind Ensemble from Kenmore, WA to perform his composition “Nyamo” for Band and African Ensemble where they performed at the prestigious Tsinghua University. Sowah was then invited back in June 2004 to conduct a series of workshops for high school music teachers and students. In May 2000 he made his Carnegie Hall, New York debut as a soloist in David Fanshaw’s African Sanctus. He has performed extensively in the United States, the Latin Americas, and in Africa, where he performed with the Ghana National Symphony Orchestra. In the United States, he has performed with notables such as Max Roach, Don Chery, Roscoe Mitchel, and Julius Hemphil. He has also performed with the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, Chanticleer, Minnesota Center Chorale, St. Paul Civic Symphony, Minnesota Sinfonia, Duluth Superior Symphony, Minnetonka Symphony Orchestra, Abendmusik: the Lincoln Chorus of Nebraska, and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, Florida, as well as many folk festivals in the US. In addition, Sowah presents clinics, lectures, workshops, and residencies at many colleges, elementary and secondary schools, churches, and music organizations all over the United States. Sowah’s third solo album, Sii Sii Sii, was released in March 2007.


This workshop will explore traditional Ghanaian music through performance modes of drumming, singing, and dancing within its cultural context.  Course includes techniques and teaching methods that can be used in the classroom. Pieces will be selected from a variety of musical styles such as unaccompanied vocal chants, songs, music from life cycle events, children’s music and music for social and other festive occasions. No prior drumming experience is required.


Monday through Thursday 2:00 PM - 7:30 PM; Friday 10:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Application Procedure

Application deadline: June 16, 2018

Applicants not enrolled in the MM in Music Education Summer Program must submit an online application, complete the $30 non-refundable application fee, and pay the workshop fee listed below.

Students enrolled in the U-M MM in Music Education Summer Program should register for this workshop through Wolverine Access. Currently enrolled U-M students do not pay the application or workshop fee.


No audition required.

Tuition / Fees

Non-refundable Application Fee - $30
Workshop fee: $400
No refunds for cancellations after June 16, 2018

Required Materials


Admission Notification

Applicants not enrolled in the MM in Music Education Summer Program are accepted upon completion of an online application and $30 non-refunable application fee. All applicants will receive an email notification confirming their admission.


For more information about Department of Music Education Summer Workshops please email Dr. Kate Fitzpatrick, Summer Program Coordinator, or call the Department of Music Education (734) 764-5429.


Department of Music Education Summer Workshops may be taken as part of the MM in Music Education Summer Program degree program, as a workshop for professional development enrichment without college credit, or for graduate credit (NCFD).

Workshop (non-credit)

  • Apply
  • Application deadline - June 16, 2018
  • Please mail $430 check payable to the University of Michigan to the address on the confirmation page.

Graduate Credit

  • Apply, indicating Master of Music Education-Summer or Non-Candidate for Degree (NCFD). If accepted, applicants pay for the credit(s) at the appropriate tuition rate (in-state or out-of-state).
  • Application deadline - June 16, 2018
  • Questions? Please contact Admissions, at

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower