Black History Month at Eastside Elementary in West Point

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dr. Bob led a group of drummers and dancers in a celebration of African musical heritage at Eastside Elementary School in West Point on February 19th.  JEMBE DEN, the African drum and percussion ensemble which performed, consists of Dr. Bob’s jembe students. The program was given for over 250 kindergarten students and their teachers.  The program featured several drum pieces including kuku (originally played when women return from fishing), fanga (an African-inspired rhythm popularized my Babatudne Olatunji), djole (a popular rhythm in Guinea to celebrate a harvest or a wedding), kassa (originally a rhythm played during work in the fields for planting and harvesting), and tiriba (a rhythm now popular for festivals and marriages).  The performers shared information about the instruments they played including the iron bell, shekere rattle, jembe, and dun-dun bass drums.  Other information shared included the meaning of the word “jembe” and the basic techniques and sounds of the jembe.  The ladies in the group gave a presentation on the udu musical clay pot of Nigeria.  Dr. Bob led the entire assembly in a call-and-response poem called “Toodle-loo! Toodle-lei!”  Tara Lowrey, music teacher at Churchill Elementary School, was a special guest of the group and led the singing of “Fanga Alafia” and presented a mother –daughter dance as part of the performance of tiriba.  The program was arranged by Rebecca DeSantis, the music teacher at Eastside.  The assembly concluded with “Kye kye kule,” an exercise game from Ghana led by Ms DeSantis.

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