Sing Ghana!

Sing Ghana! with Dr. Kathy Bullock and Brendan Taaffe
Aug. 31—Sep. 12, 2023
Register here.

Join Kathy Bullock, Brendan Taaffe, James Varrick Armaah and other Ghanaian teachers for two fabulous weeks of song, dance, and cultural exchange.

We are aiming for a group of 25 international participants and 15 Ghanaian choristers. The tuition of the international participants will subsidize the Ghanaian participants. We will focus on Ghanaian repertoire but will also be learning a selection of international songs, including gospel, Appalachian folk hymns, a Georgian song or two, and some of Brendan’s original work.

The tuition for this trip is $2350. This includes programming, room and board, and transportation within Ghana. This does not include your flight to Ghana. A deposit of $200 is required to hold your spot.

Important notes: Our program will begin at noon on the 31st. Please plan your travel accordingly. Also plan on applying for an entry visa at least three months ahead of time.

The Program

We will spend 4-5 days on the outskirts of Accra and 4 days in Kumasi, cultural capital of the Ashanti. In each place we will spend the bulk of the day learning songs with evenings free. We will also have dance and drumming lessons.

In addition, we will travel to Cape Coast and visit one of the slave forts where people were held before the “middle passage” of the transatlantic slave trade.

We will go to church services, where we will share songs, as well as schools. We will give a concert towards the end of the program.

Cultural sensitivity

A few thoughts on traveling well in a different culture:

Having had the good fortune to travel extensively, I think the keys to a successful experience are flexibility and curiosity. Particularly for white travelers, it is all to easy to bring stereotypes to the experience. Instead, seek to cultivate a mindset of “both/and”: 

Ghana is place of bustling cities and high tech industry, and also of deep traditions and rural villages.  Expect to be swept away by beautiful colors, welcoming people, and breathtaking artistry. Also, expect that not everything will run on schedule, that public transportation won’t be comfortable, and that not every meal will be to your taste.

Because of the inherent power dynamics in traveling to a formerly colonized country, thinking about concrete ways to express respect is crucial. One suggestion: learn at least a few words or phrases in Twi, the most commonly spoken language in Ghana. There are a lot of Twi language tutorials on youtube—learning “thank you” and “hello” are great places to start, but see how much further you can get.

Cultivate an awareness of the economic disparity between Ghana and the US/UK and of the history of colonization that underlies that disparity. In particular, be aware of how that history can impact the members of this trip in quite different ways depending on their heritage and personal experience;  e.g. if they are white or members of the African diaspora.

Before going to a country for the first time, I love to immerse myself in the art and history of that place: music, novels, film, non-fiction, television. We will compile a list of suggestions but also encourage you to seek out your own.

Health considerations

The Center for Disease Control recommends that travelers to Ghana take prescription medication to prevent malaria. Yellow Fever vaccinations are required for entry. Typhoid is recommended. For more information, visit the CDC website. Note: some malaria medications need to be started multiple days before the trip. Please consult with a medical professional.

We will have Ghanaian medical staff on hand in case of emergency, but we also recommend each singer purchase travel health insurance and bring a supply of personal medicine. This list from the CDC is quite comprehensive, but a good anti-diarrheal like Imodium is probably the most important thing. Do bring extra contacts/ etc.

We require that everybody be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Dietary restrictions

We cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate specific dietary restrictions. Please be in touch if you have questions or concerns about this.