As I take a historical approach to understand the ways that music has impacted Ghana’s history and culture: socially, politically, and economically, a major aspect of my contemporary focus will be the infrastructure in place for today’s youth to learn music. My focus on music education will hopefully culminate with enabling youth who lack access to music instruction opportunities to begin to learn music. One of my first stops in Accra’s scholastic landscape was the Dwenesie Music Institute (DWI), home of Dinah Reindorf.
When Dinah attended Achimota Secondary School , music education was compulsory for three years before the musicians could move on to higher levels, and those who weren’t inclined could drop it. However that is no longer the case. Dinah explained that the music theory and composition classes begin at very high levels which have two negative effects on the education of their students. It can discourage students who may be naturally talented in music but not at the academic level required of their grade level. On the other hand, it can lower the standards of schools in order to accommodate these same students and in turn potentially devalue the certificates they receive, especially on the international scale.
Music for “Kyrie Eleison” was composed by Dinah Reindorf in 1987
Dinah herself was one of the early Ghanaian students to be certified by the Associate Board of the Royal Schools of Music in theory and composition. She attended the Royal College of Music in London and has studied in the United States as well. Her musical talent has led her to great heights; she directed the National Symphony Orchestra Ghana, was the music director of the Ridge Church in Accra, and most recently founded the Dwenesie Singers and subsequently the Dwenesie Music Institute. The Pfenell Prize for second position in Associate of the Royal College of Music (ARCM); Honorary International Scholarship from the New School for Social Research, New York; Dorothy Cadbury Fellowship, Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, UK; and Cultural Ambassador Award from the Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy, Accra are just some of the awards that she has received during her illustrious career. She composes music as well as transcribes Ghanaian compositions that may have never been put to paper; these transcriptions help preserve Ghana’s musical history as well as allow composers to receive the proper credit for their art along with any potential monetary compensation they are owed from performances.
The Dwenesie Music Institute hosts international and local students alike. While DWI is not huge, Dinah and one other teacher help their average enrollment of 10 to 20 students, who balance their music lessons with their normal course of study or outside work, preparing for the next level whatever it may be. It was an honor to spend time with Dinah, to learn about Ghana’s music, and to help share her story here through Fulbright-mtvU.