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Howard Middle Orchestra teacher receives grant for creative projects | Arts & Culture

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Howard Middle Orchestra teacher receives grant for creative projects
Howard Middle Orchestra teacher receives grant for creative projects

Rachael Smith, the orchestra teacher at Howard Middle School, earned a $700 grant this fall. She applied for the Bright Ideas Grant through Southern Rivers Energy, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative in Barnesville.

The Bright Ideas Grant allows teachers to explore their creativity and design unique projects for their classrooms. Ms. Smith titled her grant, “Sansa Kroma: Teaching and Connecting Traditional Ghanian Music to Orchestra Students.” Sansa Kroma is a Ghanian children’s song that tells the story of a hawk that rescues small chicks and they learn not to worry if their parents die because the village will take care of them.

Ms. Smith plans to purchase four Remo tunable tubanos and a talking drum with the grant.

“During this unit of study, orchestra students will learn to play both traditional African drumming patterns and rhythms on African percussion, play traditional African melodies on their Western instruments, and combine the two to create a new sound,” she said of the project.

She plans to play several audio clips of authentic African singing and drumming circles. Ms. Smith will then use a call and response pattern to teach the students the drumming patterns in Sansa Kroma on their stringed instruments and on the African percussions.

Through the purchased instruments the Howard Middle School Orchestra students will be given the opportunity to explore the musical traditions of other cultures. The students will also be assigned an area of Ghanian culture to study, such as history or geography.

The Howard Middle String Orchestra plans to perform Sansa Kroma at the school’s Black History Month assembly in February.

“When I thought of this project I wanted to do something that the students would be really interested in and already had some experience with,” she said. “I thought the African drumming would be a really unique opportunity. I went to a workshop over the summer where I learned about African drumming and I wanted to incorporate it.”

- Emily Brunner

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