Nana Yaw Obrafo Asiedu

Nana Yaw Obrafo A.

San Diego, CA

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Nana Yaw Obrafo teaches



Nana Yaw Obrafo delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 5+ and special needs

Teaching since:
August 1985

I am the Founder and Director of the Ile Ayan Cultural Institution of Higher Learning. Drums balance out the right and left brain, and stimulate endorphins, which facilitate learning
I currently give ongoing African drumming and music instruction for all ages (toddlers to adults) in San Diego, where I have taught for the last fifteen years. I instructed 10,000 5th grade students each year from 2004 to 2010, as part of the San Diego City Schools’ “Balboa Park Integration Program”. I have also brought my program into the elementary schools, working both as a music teacher during the school day (seeing K-6th grade classes, one after the other, one day a week), as well as After-School programs twice a week for various school districts. I have been very successful in working with “At-Risk” teens, both in alternative schools and juvenile hall settings, as well as working with blind and deaf students. I specialize in teaching drumming via mathematics for all ages. For toddlers and parents it's math, storytelling, alphabet, and vowels.

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Composer, Arranger, Musician, Teacher
Mar 1985 - Present
Ile Ayan Cultural Institution of Higher Learning

Presently teaching at the World Beat Center in San Diego Ca. Over 16 yrs. Teaching all ages. The Blind, and also the Deaf.
I have taught over 10,000 children a year for the "Balboa Park Integration Program"
Work with and formed many students that have gone off to play with the "O'jays" and "Gap Band".Also the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra here in San Diego Ca. Arranged the African Music Score for the "Lion King Celebration" in Disneyland. CD with "Herbie Hancock", and Billy Childs. Two very famous Composers. Also worked with Quincy Jones and Steven Spielberg in the "Color Purple" the Movie. Patrice Rushen and more. Taj Mahal, Stevie Wonder, Barry White and more.

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Ethnomusicology at LACC, UCLA, Lagoon University, Ghana WA
Jun 1974 - May 1975
Lagoon University


Twi of the Asante People of Ghana, and Spanish
Limited Proficiency


Jul 2016

After over 40 years of sharing the culture. Teaching and opening the road for many to follow, I was presented with this Award in Los Angeles Ca,for the work I have done in and for the Community of La Ca. and more. "Great to get your flowers when you can still smile them".

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Mar 2000

Photos & Videos

Nana Obrafo Yaw Asiedu teaching at Geico Insurance Company for Staff and CEO's. Basic 101.
Two of my current brillant students!
Nana Obrafo Yaw Asiedu teaching via Counting method. As the child listens on and also learning.
Nana Obrafo Yaw Asiedu Lead Drummer/ Composer. Our African group opened this Park 35 years ago when it was called "Wild Animal Park".
Nana Obrafo Yaw Asiedu, Lead Drummer, Composer, and Foreman of the "Lion King Celebration" in Disneyland.

This is a interview of  Nana Obrafo Yaw Asiedu teaching a drum workshop  at the World Beat Center, where he has taught for the last 15 yrs.
Nana Obrafo Yaw Asiedu can accommodate up to 75 people at on time for a Drum Workshop.

Nana Obrafo Yaw Asiedu teaching using mathematics. If you can count, you can play. All ages!

Nana Obrafo in performance at the place he works , and teaches for the last 16 yrs. The "World Beat Center". 2100 Park Blvd. San Diego Ca.
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20 Reviews

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Linda Jan 25, 2018
Drum · In studio

Nana is one of the most patient teachers I have had the pleasure to meet. He is also very giving and generous with his time and knowledge. I have no experience at drumming and feel grateful to have found Nana.

Stavon S. Mar 15, 2016
Drum · In studio

Awesome teacher - teaches more than just how to drum.

May Jan 18, 2016
Drum ·

For 5+ years, I have brought college students to Nana’s drumming classes. Nana is a fantastic and experienced teacher who guides students into the sounds and stories of the drum. His knowledge of African drumming, culture and storytelling transforms simple drumming classes into wonderful opportunities for reflection, growth and community building. By the end of the class, students are drumming and smiling together in an unspoken connection that continues long after we leave. Thank you, Nana, for an always educational, grounding and memorable experience!

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Jason Nov 16, 2015
Drum · In studio

I took lessons with Nana, it not only brought out the best musicianship in me, but taught me life lessons which are with me to this day. My son who is 10 years old also takes lessons from Nana and loves to learn from him. Nana is a great teacher.

Linda Nov 16, 2015

I took Nana's class for six years and it was a wonderful experience .I drummed with people from France,Poland,Germany and Bosnia.I performed in many venues throughout San Diego.L will treasure those memories and Nana for the rest of my life.Much love Nana thank you💚

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Brother Vikas Nov 14, 2015
Drum · In studio

I have been playing drums for almost 40 years. I play all genres of music from jazz, to African, to East Indian, Blues, Funk and improv. I perform on drumset, East Indian percussion, African percussion and "found" percussion. I performed at least once a week with Nana from 2000 to 2005. I continue perform with Nana as much as possible. I consider every performance with Nana a master lesson. His technical, cultural and philosophical approach to drumming and music have significantly shaped my approach to all forms of music in any context on any percussive instrument. In addition, Nana is amazing with children. In one lesson, they learn rhythm, time, composition, African cultural history, team work, focus, humility, confidence and individual expression. I highly encourage anyone, of any age, of any experience, of any tradition to take the opportunity to study with a true master.

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Papa Aziz Nov 8, 2015

It is a rare opportunity in deed to learn from a legend and a true master of african percussion. Nana Yaw Obrafo has inspired a generation of drummers of whom I am one of. Nana has a vast knowledge of musical traditions and instruments and the cultural history from which they come. Nana is an outstanding teacher. he is patient and always kind. Willing to share with everyone who comes to him. I highly recommend if you have the opportunity you should definitely take his classes.

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Sundiata Nov 3, 2015

I have had the privilege of knowing Nana for over 30 years as a friend and fellow musician drummer. We have shared the professional stage performing in several African Dance Companies. Nana brings with him a wealth of knowledge in African music, djembe drumming and storytelling that set Nana apart from most African American Drummers.

Nana, is an excellent teacher who has shared his musical knowledge teaching children in the public school system for many years. His unique style of teaching music combined with math and storytelling is unique. Nana has the ability to bring his roots and love of African cultural music to people of all ages making it fun and enjoyable for everyone.

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Bennie Nov 3, 2015
Drum · In studio

Nana is a true Maestre and captivating professor. I initially brought my kids thinking I would have them learn the power of the Djimbe only to realize I was learning as much as them. If you want you or your kids to learn any kind of drumming in the fastest, funnest and most authentic way possible look no further.

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Diana Aversa Nov 3, 2015
Drum · In studio

Nana is a great teacher, my son who is 2 years old has been attending the Toddler's Class at World Beat Center for over a year now. He loves drumming, singing and dancing to Nana's magical beats! Highly recommended to introduce music to children, the best gift your could give a new human being <3 Gracias Nana!

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Yiriba Nov 3, 2015
Drum ·

They say that patience is a virtue and that time is the teacher. This is what comes in the the Nana package. The go to man to take you from crawling to walking to running!!

Timbali Cornwell Nov 3, 2015
Drum · In studio

I first meet Nana Yaw Obrafo as one of the lion king drummer, over the last nearly 2 decades he is my go to person for cultural knowledge and drumming teaching.
He is truly a teachers teacher. whether you are young child just getting started or intermediate level player or a top notch professional. He can help you to grow and learn the art of culture and music.

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Aminisha Oct 25, 2015
Drum · In studio

I've known Nana for more than 30+ years. I know he began his study prior to us meeting and it was evident in the way he carried himself and had begun to master his instrument of choice at that time: the djembe. I was quite impressed when he was the only drummer at a class I was taking at that time and I could hear all the parts necessary to dance to the rhythm we were studying. In most instances you need 3 to 5 individuals and he was the only one!!! Nana currently plays for my classes and other classes around town. He graciously plays with our dance company when his time permits. I have the utmost confidence in Nana doing great things in his continuous pursuits. Peace and blessings....

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Michael Oct 24, 2015
Drum · In studio

I encountered Nana Obrafo Yaw Asiedu in 1998, when he was Music Director at the Worldbeat Center in Balboa Park. Between '98 and 2008, I became a student and assistant and a part-time member of his Worldbeat Ensemble (African music and dance). I consider myself extremely fortunate to be a former student of such an accomplished musician, composer, performer, and teacher. Nana is an expert ethno-musicologist of many of Africa's classical cultural traditions, integrating the spiritual dimensions of the music, dance and spiritual content. He is so fluent and proficient in the African diaspora musical traditions, that he is often welcomed to play with other world-class musicians and bands performing for contemporary audiences in popular urban venues. It was always an honor, a joy, and a source of consistent amazement to assist him and d videos of his music and dance classes for children, corporate staff workshops, schools, and Worlbeat Center students of all ages. It is no wonder to me that Nana has the respect and gratitude of music industry giants & former collaborators Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones, among others. As far as I know, Nana's expertise and accomplishments are unequaled and unsurpassed by anyone else. Any of Maestro Asiedu's lucky students, from age 3 to 90, can be sure they are receiving the best of what he has to offer, and that is an immense treasure for enriching the Heart and the world. My only regrets are that I met Nana after his years with Disney Inc. -- leading the Lion King Ensemble -- and that I cannot be with him whenever I want.

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Laurel B. Oct 23, 2015
Drum · In studio

I have taken music lessons from many teachers but Nana has a special quality that reaches above them all. He has a calming nature that makes you comfortable and brings out your confidence. I have watched him teach the very young to adults and he treats everyone the same, with patients and at the same time commands attention. He is very well respected by his students. To experience his lessons is truly amazing. He brings the joy of music and places it in your lap; all you want to do is play. He has a wonderful gift of teaching and the way he does it is profound but even more, he is an amazing musician. We enjoy Nana’s classes so much my family travels an hour to take lessons from him. It is one of our favorite things to do in San Diego and look forward to it every time. To have Nana as our teacher is both an honor and a joy!

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Katrina Oct 23, 2015
Drum · In studio

Over the years I've had the opportunity to study and play with some of the best drum instructors in the business, but my first and without question, best teacher, was and still is Nana. Not only did he give me a solid foundation in West African drum song, but he made certain I understood and respected the traditions and history of the drums, which is equally important to the process of becoming a djembefola of any skill.

Nana's patience, vast knowledge, skills, good humor and genuine care for his students make lessons more than simply absorbing a skill. You learn to be a part of the songs and traditions, and that's a powerful thing.

One of the most magical moments of learning with Nana was the day he allowed me to sit in with some other extremely skilled djembefola and discover that a perfectly played poly-rhythm made my beautiful little drum sound as if she were singing along with hundreds of beautiful African voices, literally. I was so startled by the sound of village women singing joyfully in multi-part harmony that my eyes went straight to Nana in surprise. I'll never EVER forget his delighted smile when he nodded at me to say he heard it too. But then. to Nana, this beautiful sound is a familiar friend.

If you want the best, most skilled and knowledgeable teacher in the San Diego area, then there is no other better than Nana. More than that, he'll teach you some mystery and magic as well.

I am Katrina Kiefer and you can find me on facebook if you'd like to ask me any questions about Nana Yaw Obrafo Asiedu

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BILLYBUNGO Oct 20, 2015
Drum · Online


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Jahson Oct 17, 2015
Drum · In studio

Nana is an empowering and caring teacher who shares his love of music and African culture with joy. I have had the honor of studying with him and my musical knowledge base and ability grew tremendously and will never be the same since I had the chance to study with him. He is one of the best teachers I have ever studied with, who empowers his students to achieve and strive to find their potential. The rhythms and drum songs he shares are great for balancing the left and right side of the body and have helped strengthen my overall well-being, in the same way yoga works on the body: And Nana is great at helping to bring this deeper sense of self and well-being out from within his students. I will never forget studying with Nana Yaw Obrafo. Highly recommended!

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Mary Lou Oct 17, 2015
Drum · In studio

Nana is a teacher who elicits both respect and excitement from his students at the same time. Students develop a, "Yes! I can do this" feeling early on in the lessons. Young children absorb lessons in rhythm, pattern, musicality, culture, and diversity, all while practicing simple alphabet and number concepts. While Nana was teaching my students I was learning so much too!

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Sharon Oct 16, 2015
Drum · In studio

Learning to drum with our drum master Nana Yaw Asiedo was amazing the things I learned ... The instruments,songs , dance ,the history, the people I met from all over the world who came to learn the djembe to feel the power of the drum. Nana had us play all over we played at Christmas on the Prado,DreamStreet,SDSU and many other venues . He has a way of teaching that makes you feel one with your drum,it was a beautiful journey in to music that I still feel till this today.

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