2007 Partnerships in Music Education

Bettersworth Leadership Lecture Series

Robert Damm made presentations to selected 7th and 8th grade students at the West Oktibbeha County High School in Maben on January 26 as part of the Bettersworth Leadership Lecture series. The programs were scheduled by Susan Allen, the school district's librarian, through the MSU Office of Admissions and Scholarships. The presentations focused on the topic of Native American music and included flute playing, drumming, singing, and dancing. Mrs. Evangeline Palmerton, a member of the Navajo Nation, assisted Robert in teaching a Friendship Dance to the 8th graders. Dr. Damm discussed stereotypes, historical and contemporary Native American life ways, and Indian Removal from their native lands including The Trail of Tears.

Community Drum Circle

Robert Damm facilitated a drum circle February 13th in the Rice Hall lobby beginning at 6:00. The drumming last for 45 minutes and was followed by food and drinks prepared by members of the African Student Association. The program was sponsored by the Social Justice Committee and organized by Resident Assistant Charlie Wilder.

African Drum Ensemble

The African Student Association's African Drum Ensemble performed for AFRICAN NIGHT on February 28 in the Palmeiro Center. The event concluded the series of February events sponsored by the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center in celebration of Black History Month. The ASA African Drum Ensemble was established in 2006 when the group organized in order to perform for the Global Fusion international student program. The drum ensemble provides a recreational outlet for African students to come together and share their rich musical heritage.

The ensembles repertoire for African night included … Funga Alafia (a Liberian welcoming song which is one of the best-known pieces of drum music from West Africa), Agbadza (a recreational music of the Ewe tribes of Ghana), and Adowa "Takyiman" (A social dance of the Ashanti people of Ghana which features the donno or hourglass string-tension talking drums). The ASA African Drum Ensemble, directed by Robert Damm includes MSU students from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

Presentation at National Conference

Robert J. Damm and Susie Marshall (elementary music specialist in West Point, MS) were co-presenters of "A Celebration of African Heritage" for the Biennial meeting of the National Association for the Study and Performance of African American Music (NASPAAM). The national conference convened on the Jackson State University Campus in Jackson, Mississippi in March of 2007. The performance included nearly one hundred second grade general music students, fourteen 4th grade drummers, and five MSU music majors. The performance was offered as a model for providing valuable multicultural music education experience for future educators while supporting music in a local public school.

African Day at St. Andrews School

St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Jackson, MS will be had their AFRICAN DAY on March 22 in their Center for Performing Arts. According to Matthew Ellefson, 6th grade history teacher and organizer for the day's event, "the purpose of the day is to celebrate African cultures." Robert Damm provided an African music workshop as part of the Bettersworth Leadership Lecture Series sponsored by Mississippi State University's Office of Admissions and Scholarships. Bettersworth Leadership lectures are provided for school assemblies throughout MS free of charge.

Assisting Dr. Damm was MSU graduate student Vitalis Temu from Tanzania. Vitalis, a talented singer and organist, is a member of the African Student Association's African Drum Ensemble. The United States ambassador to Tanzania, Michael Retzer, made a presentation following the African music workshop.

Dr. Damm Receives Higher Education Award

Robert J. Damm received the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education's 2007 Higher Education Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to arts education. The three considerations in selecting the honoree were superior teaching including arts education leadership and research, professional activity beyond the local campus, and evidence of modeling best practices of arts education through teacher education courses and programs. Dr. Charlotte Tabereaux, MAAE President, presented Dr. Damm with his award at the MSU Riley Center in Meridian.

Music Mania

Saturday, March 24th was Music Mania Day for Girl Scouts of Northeast Mississippi. Dr. Damm worked with 16 volunteers from SAI to help local Girl Scouts learn earn their music badges through hands-on experience with composing, making instruments, playing instruments, singing, and dancing. Dr. Damm's session was a workshop on African music and culture involving poetry, literature, playing percussion instruments, singing, and dancing. The closing program, which integrated literature, music, and dance, featured a performance by all the Girl Scouts and SAI volunteers.

Brazilian Drumming Workshops

Dr. Damm worked once a week since February with the 8th grade percussion students at Armstrong Middle School. They studied Brazilian music and rehearsed a samba-reggae composition composed by Julie Hill entitled "Rudi's Batuque." The students performed the piece in Lee Hall with the MSU Percussion Ensemble directed by Dr. Jason Baker on April 18. Julie Hill (percussion instructor at the University of Tenn-Martin) visited Starkville the week of the concert in order to teach the students more about "Rudi's Batuque." Dr. Hill's residency in Starkville was funded in part by the Holland Music For All Fund.

Samba at Henderson

Rose Sebba and Robert Damm will present a lecture-workshop about Brazilian music and culture at Starkville's Henderson Elementary School on Tuesday, April 17th. The presentation is being made at the request of Danny Pang, a social studies teacher at Henderson. Dr. Sebba will provide an overview of Brazil and its music, especially samba. Dr. Damm will provide hands-on experience in playing samba rhythms on traditional percussion instruments.

MENC Percussion Playground

April 21st was Starkville's Cotton District Arts Festival. Members of the MSU Chapter of MENC (music majors Caitlin Babb, Katy Ballew, Beth Brewer, Teletha Coker, Alex Gibson, and Wes King) facilitated hand drumming in the Percussion Playground area of the Children's Village. Guided recreational drumming provides musical skill development in improvisation and ensemble playing as well as promoting self-expression and community connections. The MENC-MSU student volunteers for the Percussion Playground have had experience in world music drumming and recreational drumming facilitation.

Music Classes for Home-schoolers

The Home Educators pre-school music class had its final class meeting of the year today. The children (ages 4-7) then met in the pecan grove near Music Building A to give an "informance" (informative performance) for parents and friends. The picnic which followed gave parents an opportunity to discuss educational programs they would be interested in seeing offered next year. In addition to continuing the established preschool music class and elementary choir, suggestions were made to add classes in band instruments, string instruments, world drumming, and visual arts. Robert Damm (Dr. Bob) serves as teacher for the pre-school music class in which he uses an Orff approach of providing spontaneous and structured experiences in singing, moving. listening, and playing instruments. For more information contact Angie Riffell by email at angieriffelldc@yahoo.com or call the Department of Music at 325-3070.

New Eyes, New Images

Robert Damm will provide recreational drumming sessions for teenage boys and girls in Columbus on April 27th and May 1st. The events were arranged by Heather Roland of the Columbus Arts Council for students who have been sentenced to either the Juvenile Detention Center or the Adolescent Offender's Program. The sessions are part of the NEW EYES, NEW IMAGES program supported by the Mississippi Department of Education Office of Innovation and School Improvement to help at-risk youth in Columbus and Lowndes County.