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June 8, 2001 -- No. 288
NEA grant expands fourth-grade music project to three more schools
By L.J. TOLER
UNC News Services
CHAPEL HILL -- A pioneer project that integrates traditional, old-time music into the teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic in North Carolina fourth-grade classes will expand next year to three more schools -- in Orange, Durham and Ashe counties.
New Hope Elementary School in Hillsborough, Forest View in Durham and West Jefferson in the state's northwestern corner will be among 10 schools sending 31 teachers to training for the project next week (June 11-15) in West Jefferson.
Teachers will sing, dance, learn, brainstorm and listen to live banjo, gospel and guitar as they prepare to implement this new approach, the N.C. Curriculum, Music and Community Project.
The National Endowment for the Arts recently gave the project a vote of confidence: $90,000 to continue the two-year-old project in 2001-2002. The N.C. Arts Council also helps fund the project.
The council and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Education and Curriculum in Folklore, creators and partners in the project will sponsor the training at the Ashe Arts Center at Main Street and School Avenue.
"Music has the potential to provide a means of expression and a way to exhibit competence and confidence that many typical school activities do not," said UNC associate education professor Dr. Dwight Rogers, project co-director. "This training is designed to give teachers ideas to carry back to their classrooms for their students next year and in the future."
Schools continuing in the project from last year will be Gamewell Elementary in Caldwell County, which piloted it in 1999-2000; Blue Ridge Elementary School in Warrensville (Ashe County); Central Elementary in Waynesville (Haywood County); and Cedar Ridge, Flat Rock, Shoals and Westfield elementaries in Surry County.
Last year two music teachers began a limited version of the project in the four Surry schools, having children create broadcasts for local radio. Those will continue at Flat Rock and Westfield, Rogers said; Cedar Ridge and Shoals will add the project in full after its fourth-grade teachers train for it next week.
Musicians performing at the training from 1-3 p.m. will include guitarist Wayne Henderson, a champion flat-picking guitar player and award-winning instrument maker, and bassist Herb Key, both of Mouth of Wilson, Va., on Monday (June 11) and the Branchettes, an African-American gospel group from Johnston County, on Tuesday (June 12).
The Smokey Valley Boys, a champion old-time string band from Surry County, will perform Wednesday (June 13), said UNC folklore chair and professor Dr. Glenn Hinson, also a project director.
"We'll close on Friday (June 15) with a square dance featuring a local Ashe County caller," he said.
Project goals include enhancing children's interest in school and ability to learn and helping teach them about local history, culture and folklore, Rogers said. It also brings adult members of the local communities into the schools and gets schools and local arts councils working together.
"Music is too often an afterthought in schools, or something assigned to a few minutes a week in a designated classroom," he said. "We believe that children will be inspired to learn and gain a renewed interest in school by making music more central to the everyday workings of schools."
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Editors: Media representatives are welcome to cover the training. Rogers and Hinson can be reached next week (June 11-15) at the Ashe Arts Center, site of the training, at 336-246-2787.