ART PLACE 2016 – 2017: Kathy Armstrong – DRUMSPEAK

Art Place Project

Community Partner: Sandy Hill Community Health Centre

Participants: Youth

Art Practice: Group percussion and dance

Language: English

Description: The DRUMSPEAK project is all about communication through engaging with rhythm. Social interaction has been recognized as a major determinant in overall health and well-being, and participation in African drumming groups provides both social and musical interactions for individuals. Participants will learn techniques and basic skills in hand drumming through working with a piece of traditional repertoire from Ghana, developing a vocabulary that connects to the different sounds on the drums. These techniques will then be applied to forms of personal expression by the individuals involved, from both written and verbal sources.  The resulting layers of rhythms on drums and other small African percussion instruments will allow participants to build a collective composition, and communicate with each other using non-verbal means.

Artist Statement

I am a percussionist and educator specializing in the drumming, dancing and singing of West Africa. Trained as a classical percussionist, I value all kinds of musical styles and experiences and bring a wide perspective to my work. My focus has been on Ghanaian music for over two decades as I am passionate about the energy and inclusiveness that engaging with this style of music can create. With a music education background I have been able to develop effective ways of communicating challenging material in a positive and timely manner. Through my many years of studies in Ghana I have come to appreciate the role that arts can play in everyday lives, providing a positive connection between people while increasing skills and confidence of individuals.

About Sandy Hill Community Health Centre:

Sandy Hill Community Health Centre has operated continuously since 1975, managing and delivering programs and services in primary care, social services, addictions services, health promotion and education, community development, mental health crisis and advocacy. The vision of SHCHC is that everyone in our community will have an equitable opportunity for health and well-being, and we achieve this through our mission to lead and innovate in person-centred primary health care and community well-being.







Project Updates

Third Year of Art Place Artist-in-residence Program Amplifies Voices in the Community – News Release

Listen to the Drum: Interview #1

DRUMSPEAK: Off to a good start!– Blog post #1

DRUMSPEAK: Sharing voices– Blog post #2

DRUMSPEAK: Canada, what we love! – Blog post #3

It all goes in the pot: Art Place Interview #2 with Kathy Armstrong

Dress Rehearsal – Blog post #4

Showcase! – Blog post #5

Guest Drummer Visit! – Blog post #6

Art Place Final Thoughts with Kathy Armstrong


About the Artist

Kathy Armstrong is a percussionist and educator who is well-known for her work in bringing Ghanaian music and dance to community and professional settings in North America and Europe. She received her BMus and MMus from the University of Toronto, and has studied and taught Ghanaian music for over 25 years. In 1995 Kathy founded Ottawa’s Baobab Drum Dance Community, a non-profit arts education program for children and youth, which recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary.  She has been honoured with a Community Award from the Ghanaian Association of Ottawa. Kathy also teaches part-time at Carleton University in the music department and is a MASC artist in schools. Kathy has just completed an MA in Music and Culture, researching the links between participatory music and the mental, social and physical health of young people. Her commitment to community development and cross-cultural understanding informs and strengthens the inherent power of this art form.


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