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Percussion Ensemble embraces a cultural experience

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Students in the Virginia Tech Percussion Ensemble are learning about West Africa culture while working with Ghana native and Roanoke resident Otu Kojo. The experience will culminate with a April 10 performance of "Make a Joyful Noise!," directed by Annie Stevens, at the Moss Arts Center.
Just the percussion ensemble has been around and at the collegiate level since about the 1950s and now it's really thriving at many universities. And it's something that I place a really heavy emphasis on in the curriculum for my percussion students here we play all kinds of music. I try to integrate music that represents cultures from all over the world. I have forged this great friendship with O2 coach who lives locally here in Roanoke and is originally from Ghana. It's really exciting. The students have never played this style of music before. And so it's always just something fresh for them to learn and be a part of something completely different. That's when great. This is actually my second time. He came my freshman year as well. So this time it's a little bit easier. This is a completely different style of what we're doing. There is no music. It's all learn by rote and our studies here usually we have sheet music and we read off that and learn that way. There's not music and you just learned by what he tells us to do. I am a part of all of these rehearsals. I don't step out of the door and let him take over. I, I am a part of the ensemble learning side-by-side with the students. It's really enlightening to see what the music of gone up means to their culture and how much they value it. I guess for here it's more entertainment purposes. Over there. It's part of their culture and it's part of their way of life. I mean, here we did group, coal, cuckoo Miss symbol, but he said kinesin, prominent dancing group. So we do holiday tradition, African pledged. He doesn't seem in Chrome you. It is a team learning. While people were so learning formula, hoping that they will learn like everything that I'm teaching them so far, like the shut downs, that much advance, half like it. Huge history behind that dance is like your festive lighting is a very big thing. And they do this dance when a teenager is coming into the adulthood. That's where they do dispatch our dance music, a blast Africa, places such a heavy emphasis on these rhythms is really complex rhythms, which is not something that we are really exposed to in some of the music theory training that we get in Western music. It's very focused on harmony in western music. So this really allows the students to comment music from a different angle and see how all of the syncopation that happens between all these different parts, how that creates something really amazing. So that's another thing that my students really got out of studying music. It's just another aspect of what music theory can mean.