Legendary blues guitarist and singer B.B. King once said: “The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” Unfortunately, as school budgets get slimmer and government funding for the arts is slashed, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for children to learn about the arts to begin with. I’d like to offer my informance and artist-in-residence programs as a way to augment your school’s current curriculum in the arts. I am currently working with the Ohio Arts Council, Artsbridge, and The Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center to bring music into the schools and communities of Ohio and West Virginia. Funding for residencies and informances may be available though these and other arts organizations.
Best suited to an assembly or classroom, informances are presented in a setting that is both entertaining and educational. Currently I am offering two informance programs: The World on a String and The Blues and Beyond. The World on a String presents a variety of guitars and music following the transformation of the guitar from its ancestry as a Spanish folk instrument through its development into American-designed steel-string and electric guitars. Short performances of classical, blues, jazz, and rock music on idiomatic instruments demonstrate how each instrument’s unique sound and design has dramatically impacted our music and culture. New this year is The Blues and Beyond. This program’s emphasis is tracking the history of the blues from its roots in work songs and spirituals to its eventual development into modern blues music and two of its musical cousins: rock-n-roll and jazz. Musical selections illustrate concepts unique to the blues while focusing on the people and historical events that shaped the music. All informance presentations include a study guide for teachers and may be customized to emphasize connections to the mathematics, science, language arts, or history that students have been studying in their regular curriculum. Informances usually last about one hour. I usually reserve some time at the end of the session to answer questions and meet with students.
Typically lasting anywhere from two to four weeks, residencies enable young people to participate in the creative process with professional artists. During the residency, each student receives hands-on experience with acoustic guitars and is introduced to the basics of playing the guitar through simple pieces. As students progress, emphasis will be placed on group playing, creativity through rhythmic and melodic improvisation, and the feeling of self-confidence that grows from discovering a new skill. These experiences can be modified to meet the needs of a particular teacher or class. Additionally, residencies may offer a chance to explore musical connections to concepts such as writing skills, math and science, and American history.
Cross – Curricular Connections With Music
• Writing skills are explored through analyzing and composing lyrics for common American song forms. Students appreciate how vividly songwriters are able to express their emotions within limitations of a musical structure.
• America’s history and diverse culture are reflected throughout our music. An examination of the blues tells of the struggles of African-Americans to gain freedom and equal rights, while sixties-era rock and folk music echoes the social changes that took place at that time.
• A study of the evolution of guitar design over the past 200 years demonstrates several principles of math and science in action and uncovers the significant impact the industrial revolution has made on the design of modern acoustic and electric guitars.
• Since the birth of sound recording the concepts of acoustics and electronics have become intertwined. Investigate how a guitar string produces sound waves and how the sound is then electronically altered to produce the tonal effects heard on classic recordings.
I work with several area arts organiztions which may be helpful in planning a residency or informance:
Ohio Arts Council
Joanne Eubanks, Residency Coordinator
727 East Main Street
Columbus, Ohio 43205
The Ohio Arts Council Artist in Residence Program grants enable young people, educators and community members to participate in the creative process with professional artists. You may download a grant application in PDF format directly from their website. If you have questions or need assistance completing the form, don’t hesitate to contact OAC. They have a great staff who are willing to help you in any way they can.
Gerri Torres, Director of Education
935 Market Street, P.O. Box 1706
Parkersburg, WV 26102
Artsbridge is an arts services agency dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Mid-Ohio Valley by promoting and supporting the arts through financial and administrative support, and arts education in area schools. Schools participating in the Artsbridge Arts Education program are entitled to select five visiting artists each year. In my case this usually means an informance in a classroom or a school assembly. Contact Artsbridge if your school would like to participate in this program.
Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center
Lisa Quinn, Director of Education
5000 Dairy Lane
Athens, Ohio 45701
The Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center’s mission is to promote the arts, crafts and cultural heritage of southeastern Ohio, and to bring to the region the very best of the arts from all over the world. The Dairy Barn’s Artists in the Schools program coordinates both informances and residency programs and will assist schools in uncovering funding opportunities.
For more information contact John directly via the Contact Page