Saeed Abbas

Primary Artistic Discipline: Music

  • Photo courtesy of Joe Horsak.
    Photo courtesy of Joe Horsak.
  • Photo courtesy of Joel Askey,
    Photo courtesy of Joel Askey,
  • Photo courtesy of Joel Askey,
    Photo courtesy of Joel Askey,

Area of Specialty: Ghanaian drums, xylophone, and flute

Based in: Freeland

Cell Phone: 518-729-8192

Home Phone:




Saeed Abbas is from the Hausa tribe in Ghana, a country rich in music and dance styles. Abbas showed prodigious musical talent from childhood and overcame much to pursue his passion. He began teaching in Ghana Public Schools at 16 and at 19 he auditioned into Ghana’s prestigious National Dance Ensemble as their master drummer.

Abbas traveled the world performing for many dignitaries before settling on Whidbey Island in Washington where he teaches music in schools and performs nationally. He recorded two solo albums Gye NyamE in 2004 and Kowanaso in 2007. He has made a lifelong study of the music of his country and was awarded the coveted Master Drummer Certification by the Minister of Culture of Ghana in 2012.

“Music is my happiness,” he says.

Artist Statement

In my work as a teaching artist I tune into the varying aptitudes of every student. I don’t teach to the middle only, I teach in a methodical, intentional manner. Everyone can get it and when they all do, I feel rewarded.

I have been teaching for 27 years. Over the years I have learned patience. I do not judge or put expectations on my students. My personal philosophy as a teaching artist is that everyone can learn the rhythms and benefit from drumming. Drumming reduces stress. It serves as an emotional outlet and provides an alternative to video games and television. As a teaching artist I see my purpose is to teach a form of music that is primal and joyful. For many children the discipline of music and the cooperative effort of playing in unison is arare experience. It is a way of developing a feeling of competency and teamwork.

As an individual artist I perform traditional West African music on traditional instruments i.e., the talking drum, the Antenteben flute, xylophone, kpanlogo drums, cowbell, Calabash Rattle and others. I create complex solos within the context of pure indigenous rhythms. I also sing traditional songs .I approach my art form with a dedication to preserving the integrity of the music of West Africa. They are the roots of Brazilian Samba, Reggae, the Blues and much more. I feel it is important for the world to know the rhythms of Ghana. This music is for everyone.


Suitable for Grades: K-12

Preferred Grades: 3-8

Languages spoken other than English: Hausa

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