Artists in Schools Directory


Mustafa Abdul-Aleem

Artist's Narrative

Over the last 20 years Mustafa Abdul-Aleem has developed interactive arts education programs that have proven to be extremely effective in presenting the beauty of the many cultures of Africa. The program African Culture: Music, Dance & Storytelling can be custom tailored to be age appropriate for students in elementary school, middle school, high school or college.

The tradition in Africa has called on the Djeli (a master musician and/or master dancer) to transmit history and cultural attributes through the performing arts. These performing artists and historians utilize traditional instruments such as the Djembe drum, the Djum-Djum drum, the Balafon, the Mbira, the Berimbau and the Kora, as well as dance movement to help them deliver their message to the community. This "oral tradition" has kept alive much of the knowledge about the rich history of African cultures.


September through May.
Fees listed are for schools in the Columbus area.

Programs Available

Drum Making Workshop (Grade levels 6-12, adult)

The primary workshop session starts with the discussion of drum making elements and how they are used to make a quality instrument.

Elements of the Drum

  • Three Rings: lower, inner and top
  • Drum Shell (wood)
  • Drum Head: goat skin or cow skin
  • Rope

I provide the materials for each participant, and we start by preparing the rings with roping techniques which will allow tension to be applied to the drum once constructed. Additional rope is measured for each drum that will be used to connect the rings to that drum. The next process includes preparing the Drum Head for attachment to the Drum Shell. Once the head is attached, the process of stringing the drum by running the rope through the prepared ring loops is completed. The drums should be kept overnight to dry before more work is done to tune the instrument.

Once the drum heads have become dry, then the workshop participants are shown the process of tightening the ropes to improve the sound element of each drum.

The Drum Making Workshop should be completed in two or three sessions, for at least three hours per session over a period of two or three days. Each participant is required to pay the cost of the materials for each drum.

Activity Options:
Drum Making Workshop
  • Duration: varies
  • Fees: $750/ day. $2500/ week plus materials
  • Requirements: materials extra

African Culture: Music, Dance & Storytelling (Grade levels K-adult)

Through the educational program African Culture: Music, Dance & Storytelling, one may experience the tradition of transmitting knowledge through the performing arts. I bring up to 45 instruments in order to allow students to have a hands-on activity with traditional African instruments. In the workshops, students are taught to play the djembe drums, the djum-djum drum, agogo bells, and shekeres. I always begin by teaching hand drum techniques and basic rhythm patterns. Students are also taught traditional songs, dances, and cultural traditions. They are taught to focus as performers, and shown how to use umoja (the power of working together as one). A full school assembly presentation explores the geography, languages and customs of several ethnic groups, as well as their music, their dance, and their sensibility.

Activity Options:
AFRICAN CULTURE -- Two week residency
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Fees: $5,000
  • Requirements: Negotiable
AFRICAN CULTURE -- One day residency
  • Duration: one day
  • Fees: $750
  • Requirements: two or three workshop sessions (60 min., 45 students max.). Schools may also schedule a rehearsal (30 min.) and full school assembly program (60 min.) where workshop participants can showcase what they learned.
    Workshops need to be conducted in a large room or on a clean gym floor.
AFRICAN CULTURE -- One week residency
  • Duration: five days
  • Fees: $2,500
  • Requirements: Negotiable