Gary Posner

International School of Dakar, Senegal


How long have you been working with Musical Futures?
Officially, since this September 2016.  I only came to Dakar last year.  When I arrived, I had a giant music room with 16 Djembes, 8 damaged nylon string guitars and 8 steel string acoustic guitars.  I tried a teaching music based around the drums, but my middle schoolers (age 12-15) just weren’t very interested. With the help of a parent, we repaired some of the instruments, including 2 damaged drum sets and then had the students playing in bands.  When I told a friend back in the US what I was doing, he suggested I read Lucy Green’s Hear Listen Play.  I did and that led me to Musical Futures.  I read everything I could on the website and wrote a grant to get enough equipment to create, at least, 3 “silent” practice spaces.  I got all the equipment on September 22, 2016. Spent 3 solid nights and days wiring and was then ready to try In The Deep End.

Our school started in early August.  I began the semester with a modified version of Just Play.  I had already made my own resources for songs like Demons, Photograph, Viva La Vida, etc.  We did body drumming instead of chair drumming.  But basically it was the same.  The students were excited being able to play from day 1. Their parents were so excited with how engaged they were.

Our school is on a trimester schedule, so I am almost done with my 8th graders (15 years old) and will get the 6th graders (12-13 years old) next. With the 6th graders, I am anxious to use some of the Find Your Voice resources.  I got many ideas from the workshop at the Music Learning Revolution.

What do you do?
Head of secondary music department at the International School of Dakar, Senegal.

What is your background?
After college, musician I toured with bands like Tom Tom Club and Talking Heads. All the while, collaborating with such music luminaries as Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, The Grateful Dead, Ziggy Marley, Keith Richards, Debbie Harry, The Ramones, Television, The Fine Young Cannibals, The Gypsy Kings, Robert Palmer and Roberta Flack.

I am an Emmy-nominated composer with over 40 film scores, including PBS’ The Draft, Lincoln @ Gettysburg and Peabody Award winning Silence of the Bees, History Channel’s Emmy Award winning Russia: Land of the Tsars and its 13-hour miniseries The Revolution. Television credits include work for HBO, Cinemax, ESPN, Court TV, Tru TV, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and History Channel.

Teaching film scoring to graduate students at New York’s NYU and The New School, inspired me to go back to school for his K-12 Music and TESOL Certification. I then started teaching world music classes at PS 290 in Manhattan, as well as, elementary music classes at the prestigious United Nations International School. In addition to my work in New York City, I taught English Through Music classes at Projecto Novas Descobertas, an organization committed to integrating various socio-economic groups in Portugal.

Five words that sum up Musical Futures
Fun, authentic, engaging, timely, organised

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Every pop song that resonates with a middle schooler like Heathens, Cake by The Ocean, Lost Boy, Marry Me, Riptide, etc.

About your school
The International School of Dakar is an English-medium school, serving children in grades Pre-Kindergarten 3 through grade 12. ISD is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) and the Council of International Schools (CIS). The US based curriculum is enhanced by the best educational practices from around the world including the prestigious International Baccalaureate Program for students in grades 11 and 12. Through specialized teachers, ISD is able to support students who are learning English as another language as well as students with mild learning disabilities. Our graduates have attended universities in the United States, Canada, and Europe including some of the top universities in the world such as Harvard, Stanford, University of Toronto and the University of Bath, UK.

The beautiful campus overlooks the Atlantic Ocean with bright classrooms, a spacious library, art, and music rooms, state-of-the-art science and computer labs. There are additional amenities including playgrounds, a soccer field, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, as well as basketball and tennis courts. ISD families are encouraged to enjoy the use of these facilities after school and on the weekends.