Traditional Arts

Cultural Heritage Programs at Hindman Settlement School

Our cultural heritage programs promote education and allow us to share the history of Central Appalachia with members of our community.

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Folk Arts Education Program

We love knowing that generations of students from the Central Appalachian area grew up attending folk dances and musical events hosted at Hindman Settlement School’s campus. Many Hindman Settlement School students have even learned traditional crafts, such as weaving and woodworking as well as folk arts, like dulcimer playing and ballad singing.

Hindman Settlement School’s Folk Arts Education program is divided into two main missions: providing a culturally relevant arts and humanities curriculum for Knott County schools, and providing cultural programs and outreach in the wider community. Our Folk Arts Education program provides weekly classroom instruction for students attending six Knott County public schools. We coordinate artist residencies throughout the year, bringing in artists and practitioners from eastern Kentucky and from outside of the region to share with students about a variety of creative practices. Our Folk Arts Education program also develops oral history projects with local instructors so that students have the opportunity to engage with community members and local culture through the oral history process. In the broader community, we also work with senior citizens, nursing home residents, a residential recovery center, and a HeadStart program. Additionally, Hindman Settlement School hosts a number of workshops and events throughout the year that explore and celebrate Appalachia’s rich and diverse cultural heritage and living traditions.

Pick & Bow Music Program

At Hindman Settlement School, we know that musicianship is an invaluable tool in helping children to develop socially and mentally. In addition, specifically learning Appalachian old-time music instills a sense of pride and connection to our region and provides a great introduction to Appalachia’s cultural heritage for our youth.

The Pick & Bow Program is a low to no-cost after-school music education program that teaches local youth Appalachian old-time music in Letcher, Knott and Floyd Counties in Kentucky. The Pick & Bow Program was launched in 2003 in Letcher County through the Traditional Music Project with Appalshop and WMMT-FM. In 2016, Hindman Settlement School partnered with the Project to expand the program into Knott County Schools. Thanks to the generous support of the nonprofit regional arts organization South Arts, in 2018, the program expanded into Floyd County Schools. Each semester begins with an assembly performance by our instructors in schools where the program operates. These assemblies allow new students to see and hear Appalachian old-time music performed live.

Currently, the Hindman Settlement School Pick and Bow program employs eight instructors and offers music lessons after school at Hindman Elementary and May Valley Elementary. These lessons are offered for the duration of the school year, with the goal of expanding into more schools as the program develops. Students of the program are given the choice between guitar, fiddle, banjo, or mandolin. A few times each semester, students participate in square dancing and play party games that incorporate music and movement. The Pick & Bow Program also hosts annual student concerts at the elementary school sites at the conclusion of each semester. Our instructors have honed their craft by playing with, or apprenticing under, traditional master musicians from eastern Kentucky. Pick & Bow’s mission is to carry on the tradition of passing on the talent and tunes of our Appalachian ancestors to younger generations.

This program is a component of the ‘In These Mountains: Central Appalachian Folk Arts and Culture’ initiative and supported in part by a grant from South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization. If you are interested in enrolling your child in our Pick & Bow Program or in serving the program as an instructor, please contact us.