On Tuesday, May 21, members of the Chipola Regional Arts Associations were treated to vocal harmonies, music from a jazz ensemble, and they passed around a black light video of students using some of the items that CRAA’s mini-grants bought for their classrooms.
The show-and-tell takes place each year in one or two meetings of the CRAA as the academic year winds down.
Presenters were from Blountstown, Holmes and Liberty counties.
Rachel Rodgers, a music teacher from W.R. Tolar School in Liberty County, presented on behalf of herself and a colleague from Hosford. The two had each received a $250 grant from CRAA and, with the permission of that group, combined their money buy supplies they’re sharing. To teach their students about, and give them practice in, the basics of rhythm they took an unconventional approach. They bought basketballs, kick balls, 24 buckets, and some drum sets. They had their students read, write and perform rhythm sets, and put together a spring performance with fifth graders using the unconventional rhythm “instruments” more usually seen on a ball field. They also bought black light paints, tape, and other black light elements to decorate the instruments. Then they turned out the lights and let the black light work its magic.
She said she couldn’t remember a time when students have been more excited about music, and as a result of the method, many asked to join the band next year. “They were so excited to play and perform. They thoroughly enjoyed it,” she said.
Rogers brought a couple of tablets so CRAA members could watch the recorded performance.
Michael Adames, a Blountstown Middle and High School music teacher, had used his funds to pay the fees associated with his students participating in a music performance assessment, where they received individual feedback from a group of professional musicians who had judged their work in the event. “After the hurricane, funds were at a premium,” “Adames said, adding that the CRAA grant was of special importance this year. He brought some of his students along to the Tuesday meeting. His three students played their instruments together for the group. On flute, tuba, and trumpet, accompanied by Adames on keyboard, they performed two songs, one of them a Duke Ellington classic and the other a minor-key jazz piece.
The students, at the performance assessment, had to come up with their own solos, some improvised on the spot. They received a performance tape and recorded critiques/advice from the judges, and Adames said the opportunity for improvement and growth would not have been possible without CRAA.
Janet Edewaard teaches art and music at Blountstown Middle and High Schools. She, too, used some of her money to help pay performance assessment fees and associated bus costs, for her choral group to attend the event in Tallahassee. CRAA was treated to two selections from her students Tuesday, music from The Greatest Showman.
She reported that her tenor/ bass boys received second-highest scores in the competitive section of the event, and that her girls were also 2nd highest in their category. All received superior ratings in sight reading music.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for my students,” she said, adding a footnote about the difficulties she and her colleague Michael Adames have faced since students returned to school following the hurricane.
Adames, she said, has been teaching band in a hallway since thing, because his classroom and hers where given over to others after the storm. They worked from the auditorium, which they also had to give up for a time each day in order to accommodate a class of students from another discipline. With a musical on tap, they had to move their props endlessly back and forth for all these months and had to be extremely creative as they went along in what she called a very difficult year. The CRAA money was a bright spot for music and art, she said.
Her art-side grant was used to buy the supplies she needed for her students to work with a modified version of an ancient art form, in which they melted and colored beeswax with resin elements. She brought some samples of their work to show.
“It’s an expensive project,” she said, one that her students would not have had access to if not for CRAA’s contribution. She went on to talk about previous luxuries that CRAA handed her students, like the mosaics the group paid for one year. “We get zero money,” she said. “What you give us is wonderful.” One year it paid for mosaics, and one year it paid for an orange construction-style, tough-grade boom box that she still uses. She had it with her Tuesday, smiling big as she punched down a button to begin the music accompanying her choral group.