A lifelong student of percussive folkloric traditions of Africa, Brazil and Cuba, Baba Charles studies have included travels to Cuba and Brazil to study with the cultural masters of the folkloric traditions. Study and research continues through private and group master classes. As a presenter, Baba Charles has collaborated with organizations to host cultural masters Afro Cuba de Matanzas from Matanzas, Cuba; The Cepedas from Puerto Rico; and YaYa Diallo from Mali, West Africa as artist-in-residence in Cincinnati, OH. Baba Charles has shared his knowledge of percussive traditions through tours in Singapore for the WTO and the Armed Forces Entertainment European Tour.
As a craft and performing artist and an arts education advocate with a knowledge concentration on percussive traditions of the African Diaspora Baba Charles Miller presents programming for the young and the young at heart. Programming is presented as interactive performances or as core group residencies where the student creates the instrument. Then learns traditional rhythms for the instrument created.
Baba Charles has presented year-long artist-in-residency programs for elementary schools in Kansas City, MO and Cincinnati, OH. His year-long residency in Kansas City for an elementary school K-8 used as its’ curriculum John Henry Clarke’s’ African Centered Education Model. This programs after-school hour components provided the opportunity for Baba Charles to engage family members in learning music from the African Diaspora and for all family members to experience the aspects of developing performances.
Year-long Cincinnati residencies have occurred in K-6 Montessori settings, treatment facilities for children diagnosed with emotional, behavioral and learning disorders and in an early childhood facility. Collaborating for learning, Baba Charles is able to re-enforce the classroom lessons of pattern and present additional activities for hand eye coordination through percussion.
Percussion provides an opportunity to be focused and disciplined. These skills are necessary to perform as an ensemble. For nine summers, Baba Charles along with members of Drums for Peace facilitated job training in the arts for 14-18 year olds through ArtWorks. The ArtWorks employees developed percussive ensembles that performed around the tri-state for 4-6 weeks.
Arts-Integrated programming for educators utilizing percussion has been presented for the education departments of WCET & the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and at Faubush for The Kentucky Arts Council.
The ABC’s of Percussion introduces the elementary student to West African, Brazilian and Cuban instruments and rhythms. Baba Charles creates interactive learning experiences utilizing the oral tradition. That is how the percussive traditions he presents has been learned throughout time.
Students experience and gain skills so they’re able to recognize continent/country of origin for selected percussive instruments and name selected percussive instruments. They’re able to recognize and execute rhythms from West Africa, Brazil and Cuba. And the students are able to recognize and use proper percussive terms in communication.
The statement: “If you can say it, you can play it” provides an opportunity for the students to engage their parents. As the student learns to say the rhythm their assignment may be to share the rhythm with their parent.
The oral tradition utilizes call and response. To reinforce the students understand and know the rhythms, the responsibility of calling is passed from student to student; each sharing the responsibility of leadership.
As the intricacies of polyrhythm’s are explored the usage of the students critical thinking skills expand.
Even though Baba Charles includes audio and video recordings, it is that he presents the musicianship of his residencies through oral tradition that provides tradition and relevancy in today’s electronic age.