Immersing Students in Appalachian Arts

Since 1902, the mission of Hindman Settlement School has been to “provide education and service opportunities for people of the mountains, while keeping them mindful of their heritage.” Our partnerships with our local public school system brings art and music to a community with no elementary art and music teachers. But, on a deeper layer, we focus on providing art and music education that celebrates and showcases the traditional art and music of the Appalachian region. Over the course of the past year, our traditional arts education director coordinated with teaching artists to bring immersive experiences to a variety of schools and grade levels across Knott County. These weeklong residencies are hosted in addition to our regular school-based and after-school arts programs. 

Here’s a look back on what our students were able to experience!

Stained Glass ResidencyStained Glass with Jill Robertson

Stained glass artist Jill Robertson spent a week at Cordia High School teaching 9th through 12th graders the art of stained glass. Students designed their own Christmas ornaments, jewelry, sun and catchers. They also worked collaboratively on a piece as they explored concepts of design and color theory, how to safely cut glass, choose and assemble a design, and weld glass pieces together.

Kindermusik with Lindsey Branson

Musician and licensed Kindermusik instructor Lindsey Branson brought music fundamentals to Pre-K through 2nd grade students at Emmalena Elementary. Four classrooms were served with daily hour-long music sessions. During the week, students practiced steady beat and rhythm skills, learned to read simple sheet music, were introduced to music terminology, and participated in dance and creative movement as a class.

Ukulele with Mick Jefferies

Students in the Functional Mental Disability (FMD) unit along with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students at Carr Creek Elementary learned how to play the ukulele with accomplished musician Mick Jefferies. Students were introduced to the history and cultural significance of the ukulele along with the basics of holding, strumming, and chording the instruments. The week culminated with them playing instrumental tunes as well as sing-alongs, dances and creative movement to go along with their songs.

Students were also introduced to significance of Kentucky musicians and songs in popular music. Mick adapted the instruments using an alternative open tuning and felt picks for the FMD unit to help them achieve their own musical success. 

Mountain Dulcimer with Roxanne McDaniel

Roxanne McDaniel is a dulcimer player, guitarist, and singer/songwriter based in Johnson City, Tennessee. She is a lifelong musician and a graduate of the Bluegrass Studies program at East Tennessee State University. Originally from the Cumberland Gap area, she incorporates the traditional sounds of her upbringing into her own eclectic style. During her weeklong visit to Emmalena Elementary, Roxanne covered such topics as the history of the dulcimer and its place in Appalachian culture, the importance of music and song in Appalachian culture, the basics of playing the dulcimer both solo and with a group, and reading simple tablature. 

Appalachian Music with Melanie Turner

Melanie Turner is a veteran classroom teacher from Floyd County, KY a bluegrass banjo player, and a founding member of the all-female bluegrass band, Coaltown Dixie. While at Beaver Creek Elementary, Melanie incorporated literature, games, and songs that guided students discover rhythm and beat in nature, and body movement. Students also explored various rhythms and beats with simple and assessable instruments. Using these instruments, students learned to play different rhythmic patterns and practiced keeping a steady beat. They even took it to the next level by learning to identify, practice, and decode quarter and eighth notes!

These residencies are provided in 2022-2023 under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts through the Office of Accessibility and VSA, which focuses on increased access to the arts for children with disabilities and learning differences.