Cornell Coley, M. Ed. 

Arts Education 
Drum Circles

Watch Cornell's TEDx Talk

Drumming and the Brain

Event Producer & Teaching Artist

Performance, Education, Health

Cultural Studies, Drums and Dance

"Many Thanks" my Teachers in African Diaspora drum, dance and drum circle facilitation, including: 

CK Ladzekpo (Ghana), Malonga Casque Lourdes (Congo), Conjunto Folklorico (Cuba), Diane Walker (tap) and Jose Lorenzo (Afro-Brazilian) and Deraldo Ferreira (Capoeira), Arthur Hull (drum circle facilitation) and HealthRhythms Co-Directors Dr. Barry Bittman and Christine Stevens (therapeutic drumming).

    Born in Kingston, Jamaica of Cuban and Jamaican parents, Cornell Coley, M. Ed. is an “in-demand” arts educator . He holds a BA from Tufts University, an M.Ed from Cambridge College, studied cultural anthropology at UCLA and attended the University of Ghana, West Africa for one year studying dance. He has traveled to Cuba, Brazil and Ghana multiple times to conduct research in the cultural arts. In addition to teaching at Jamaica's National Cultural Training Institute, he toured Indonesia as a performer with Keith Terry and I Wayan Dibia's "Bodytjak" dance/theatre company.

   With over 40 years experience, Cornell has taught at many universities, including UCLA, the Cultural Training Institute of Jamaica, Smith, Hampshire, Amherst, Mt. Holyoke and Trinity Colleges, Northeastern University and Tufts Dance Department. In 1994, he wrote the first draft of the arts curriculum framework for the Massachusetts Department of Education.

   A gifted dancer and percussionist, Cornell has performed at festivals world-wide, including tours with the "Uclatino" band in Mexico and the "Bodytjak" Indonesian-American ensemble in Indonesia . His percussion skills include drum kit, timbales, congas, bongos, talking drum, berimbau, cajón, Brazilian bateria and other Latin percussion. His dance specialties include Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian and Ghanaiandance.

   He has received grants and awards from the Mass Cultural Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, the OAS, the City of Boston, The Boston Foundation and several private foundations.

   Among other events, he created and produced a "Women in Latin Jazz" Series (2002-2006). The last season featured jazz giant Esperanza Spalding early in her career. 

   From 2009 - 2012, Cornell provided ongoing therapeutic drumming in Vermont Veteran's Home, Tewksbury Hospital, Butler Hospital and Children's Hospital, Boston. He continues to facilitate drum circles and "Memory Cafes" at senior living centers throughout the state.

   In the decade of 2000-2010, he developed an 8-year residency and curriculum for Toddler Drumming at Spontaneous Celebrations Arts Center and conducted several multiple-year residencies in the Boston Public Schools. In 2019, he completed ten years as a therapeutic drumming specialist at Tewksbury Hospital.

   Between 2012 and 2020, Cornell was the Afro-Latin drum specialist at the Hyde Square Task Force and an Artist-in-Residence with the City of Boston and with the Live Arts Boston Program of The Boston Foundation.

    In 2017-2018, he co-created and performed in a 2-event Afro-Latin "Soul" concert series. In 2022, he created, produced and performed in the pilot of  "Rhythm Recipes" a BIPOC healing arts event. In 2023, he created and co-produced "An Evening in Ghana" to a sold-out audience, based on his 2022 trip to Ghana.

   In June 2024, he produced "Rhythm Recipes-Sankofa," a 9-person, full performance based on the 2022 show.

Cornell wrote, produced, and currently performs in his own solo, interactive "edu"-tainment show,“A Fascinating Rhythm,” reaching over 750 venues across New England.


   In October of 2015, Cornell presented a TEDx talk on Drumming and the Brain; the link is available on this page.