African drummer inspires Spartanburg students

Drummer Moussa Bolokada Conde at Pine Street Elementary School

Moussa Bolokada Conde, a world renowned drummer and teacher, plays  a goblet-shaped African hand drum called a djembe as he leads a group of students and teachers in a performance at Pine Street Elementary School in Spartanburg.  Photo by Michael Justus, Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

Renowned djembe player Moussa Bolokada Conde joined the fourth-grade drumming club at Spartanburg’s Pine Street Elementary School for a quick performance and lesson last fall. His visit was the result of an invitation by the school’s African drumming instructor, Andrew Moore. As a visiting artist, master drummer Conde has been leading the club of fourth-graders since shortly after the school year began. The club was funded through grants, including an Arts Curricular Innovation Grant from the S.C. State Department of Education, an Arts in Basic Curriculum Advancement Grant from the S.C. Arts Commission and a McDonald’s Creative Kids Grant.  A native of West Africa, Conde has spent the past few years performing and teaching in the United States and has plans to settle in Greenville, S.C.

“I think they are learning to work together,” Moore said of his young musicians. “They have to listen to play the music well. And when they play the music well, it makes them so happy.”

“He’s come a long way to come and play with us,” said fourth-grader and drumming club member Drew Chynoweth, 9. “I’ve always wanted to be a drummer.”

Pine Street recently was recognized by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a recipient of its National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award for the 2012-2013 school year. The award recognizes successful arts programs and the integration of the arts as an essential aspect of the school curriculum. The drumming club, and Conde’s visit, are part of Pine Street’s arts infusion focus.


Via Spartanburg Herald-Journal