• Michael B. Vercelli West Virginia University



Bernard Woma, Dagara, Gyil, Pedagogy


Bernard Woma (1966–2018) was a virtuoso musician and global ambassador of Dagara music. From his extensive outreach, workshops, and touring, Bernard’s work teaching the Dagara gyil (xylophone) around the world is recognisable through his detailed compositions emphasising the use of Dagara musical forms. His founding of the Dagara Music Center in Medie, Ghana in 2000, provides instruction on Ghanaian music and dance to hundreds of non-Ghanaian students. Bernard’s pedagogical pieces for gyil introduce Dagara music systematically, building students’ technique and facility on the instruments in addition to ensuring student comprehension of Dagara musical practice. Based on sixteen years of apprenticeship with Bernard, this article investigates his pedagogy, detailing his methodical process through his use of cultural and educational scaffolding techniques theorised as “deliberate practice” by Ericsson and Pool (2016) and underscores the importance of recognising the individual African musician in academic and educational settings.

Author Biography

Michael B. Vercelli, West Virginia University

Michael B. Vercelli, PhD, is a Professor of Music and the director of the World Music Performance Centre at West Virginia University. His research focuses on the transmission and performance practice of percussive traditions of Africa and the African diaspora. He has received awards for both his performance and study of indigenous music and has released recordings with master Ghanaian gyil players, Bernard Woma and Tijan Dorwana. He has given lectures, performances, and workshops across the United States, Mexico, Brazil, China, and Europe and is a participating member in the Percussive Arts Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the International Council for Traditional Music.



How to Cite

Vercelli, Michael B. 2020. “CONSTRUCTING DAGARA GYIL PEDAGOGY: THE LEGACY OF BERNARD WOMA”. African Music : Journal of the International Library of African Music 11 (2):60-67.