About Samuel Elikem Nyamuame

Dr. Samuel Elikem Kwame Nyamuame is an ethnomusicologist, musician, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, choreographer and expert in Africa and African diaspora music, dance and religious traditions. Dr. Nyamuame is a visiting Assistant Professor in the departments of Music and Theatre. He received a PhD in Ethnomusicology at University of Florida, MA ethnomusicology (World Music) at Wesleyan University, BFA (Dance and Music) and Diploma in Music at the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, Legon. His area of expertise is musical cultures of Africa and African Diaspora, African music (drumming) and dance traditions especially that of Ghana. Prior to Binghamton, Dr. Nyamuame was an adjunct lecturer teaching ethnomusicology (world music), co-director of Agbedidi African Ensemble, associate director of Pazeni Sauti Africa Choir at the University of Florida. He was affiliated faculty for the Center for African Studies and assisted in organizing outreach programs in the Alachua county public schools. Dr. Nyamuame also lectured at Wesleyan University and University of Ghana respectively in the departments of music and dance and directed several ensembles. In addition, he taught African music and dance, facilitated workshops and choreographed dances for ensembles at many institutions including Howard University (DC), Mt. Holyoke College (MA), The Five Colleges of Massachusetts, University of Massachusetts (Dartmouth), Western Connecticut State University (CT), Naugatuck Valley Community College (CT), Brown University (RI), Yale University (New Haven), College of Central Florida (Ocala, FL), New World School of the Arts (Miami, FL), University of Mississippi (Oxford) and University of Ghana (Legon) among others. Dr. Nyamuame also performed with several renowned artists including Harry Belafonte, Stevie Wonders, Danny Glover and Brazilian greatest pandeiro player Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro. Besides his performances, Dr. Nyamuame has presented scholarly works at regional, national and international conferences in ethnomusicology and African studies. Dr. Nyamuame is an experienced master drummer, dancer, choreographer and a scholar who has taken a keen interest in researching the concept and foundation of traditional African and especially Ghanaian musical performance practices.


Awards and Achievements

Outstanding Performance

Dec 2015: Outstanding performance and dedication, CEANA (Council of Ewes Association in North America) by Novinyo Habobo of Delaware Valley, Philadelphia, PA

Exceptional Service and Performance

Sep 2010: Exceptional Service and Performance, CEANA (Council of Ewes Association in North America) by Volta Association, Maryland MD

Associate Choir Director

Apr 2012: Dedicated Associate Choir Director- Pazeni Sauti Africa Choir, The first Africa choir at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Dedicated Choir Director and Organist

June 2005: Dedicated Choir Director and Organist at the New Life Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Adenta-Madina, Ghana

Teaching Philosophy

I was born in a family of educators and I am very proud to say that my father, currently a retired Assistant Director of Education, inspired me to become a teacher. For over fifteen years of experience, I have personally come to believe that teaching is a passion and a rewarding endeavor. As a teacher, artist and ethnomusicologist nothing compares to the experience of helping students understand the relevance and the place of the performing arts and its education be it music, dance, theater/drama and other performance arts in our everyday lives. My ultimate goal as a teacher is to spark the student’s interest, to hit a note of student understanding, and to leave the student with a desire to investigate more on the subject. As I teach, my priority is to demonstrate excellence, enthusiasm and consistency while having a clear impact on the knowledge and abilities of my students.

My first priority as a teacher is to create a fun, positive and engaging learning environment. Unlike other reading courses in the humanities and the sciences, music, dance and theater practically are unique types of courses that are fun but also create some sense of nervousness for those who have no knowledge or practical experience before entering a studio. As a teacher, I make it my priority to create that fun, relaxed and soothing atmosphere in the studio so that the students feel very welcome and open ready to engage themselves in something new. To break the ice, I have students introduce themselves to each other in an upbeat, comical manner as the class gains momentum while excitement is on the rise. I also share personal anecdotes and experiences of my first day entering a studio and establish it as a level where everyone should do better than my first day at the studio. The experience encourages and informs them that everything is possible to achieve when one tries and set mind to it. With this encouragement in mind I work closely with them to achieve the expected goals for the course.

I strongly believe that teachers must be enthusiastic about what they teach. Every student truly appreciates instructors who have passion for their courses. As an instructor I am always prepared and ready for all my classes. I go to class with excitement and my usual big smile on my face and bring a lot of energy into the class. If I cannot get excited and enthused about my course, why should my students? I start my dance and percussion classes with funny jokes, which normally leads into a breaking down difficult movements and rhythms. I repeat these rhythmic jokes with students singing it and imitating the movements in a “call and response” method. It takes students less time to grasp these difficult concepts with ease and it has always been very effective techniques I developed. with lots of energy and enthusiasm. I also bring to students a sense of excitement through class discussions and one-on-one interactions. The energy, excitement and fun I bring to class make my students always proud of me and easy to relate with me one of the best and most popular instructors at every institution I teach.

When planning a curriculum or interacting with students, I am always conscious of their different learning styles. It is important that an instructor of dance or in the performing arts has multiple strategies and techniques of teaching. For me, this is the exciting part of instruction. Coming from Ghana and with an interdisciplinary background, my teaching methods use every possible resources including our environments as a technique to enhance students understanding. In terms of rhythm, I use specific food, languages, movements of specific animals or music theory to help students understand the perception of African rhythms or African music theory in general. For example, when learning the foundation rhythmic pattern of the Kpanlogo dance-music of the Ga people of Ghana, it is important that students understand the underlining pattern and beats. By using Tacobell food, I created a pattern that rhymes with the five strokes on the kpanlogo bell as Ta-co-bell-is-good. After this exercise knowing that most students don’t like Tacobell food necessarily, it creates fun and laughter among them and unbeknownst to them, they already learn and easily relate their body movements to the rhythmic pattern. This is just one out of several examples I employ when teaching students of multiple learning styles and from different cultural backgrounds. With dance, it is necessary that a student understand rhythm, attitude, space and time to set his/her body in motion. My training in different parts of the world helped me develop teaching techniques for all cultures. This makes teaching easy, fun for me and engaging for my students.

I am an ambitious teacher who always challenge and inspire student growth and success. My greatest satisfaction in life is to see my students excel in life. I attempt to inspire growth in my students by giving them tools to take into other spheres of life. Among these tools are a sense of curiosity, open-mindedness and a thirst for knowledge. For example, I challenge my students by guiding them to create a dance piece that is meaningful and encourage group discussions. As they struggle through the creative process I see a sense of artistic growth. I interact with them consistently until their project is successful. My task is to facilitate the learning and the creative process. I therefore support every students’ hard work and encourage them throughout the process. Regarding world music performance I show students videos of how the music and dance are performed in its original context and the important elements that constitute the performance. As they watch the videos, I get the into smaller groups to report on what they have observed and we use various outcomes to tackle important issues in different context. I also interpret dance gestures both in their literal and deeper meaning.

Feedback from students is vital to effective teaching. Despite student growth and accomplishments in my courses there are times I still feel on few faces if they truly understand the materials, movements and rhythmic patterns. I ask students to write list of what they do not understand or feel was not well explained so that I can meet with them and explain to them in details. I personally love feedbacks because it helps me pay extra attention to my students and thereby making student-teacher relationship stronger.

Although I get wonderful evaluations from my students based on my teaching, I do not think I am the ultimate best teacher. My aim is to continue to improve my teaching skills and advance my goals as the best teacher to inspire and be a model for the younger generations. I know there will always be room for improvement. These are the aspirations that I want to bring any institution for students benefit, growth and success.