Preschool Music Program
The MSU Department of Music, in cooperation with Starkville Christian Home Educators and Parent Educators and Kids, has established a preschool music program for Fall 2006. The classes began on August 18 and ran through November 26. Robert J. Damm (Dr. Bob) serves as teacher for the 25 students (ages 4-8) who meet in the Music Methods Center every Monday morning from 9:45-10:45. The Orff-based curriculum features a range of spontaneous and structured experiences in singing, moving. Listening, and playing instruments.
Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) - MSU Chapter Music Mania, February 18, 2006
SAI presented MUSIC MANIA for Girl Scouts of Northeast Mississippi on February 18 from 10:00-2:00. The goal of women in SAI is to promote the highest standards of musical training and achievement among women musicians. Over 50 Girl Scouts (between grades 1 and 6) learned about music through lessons in music history, composition, and performance. Dr. Robert Damm led four sessions on the topic of African music and cultures.
Bettersworth Leadership Lecture Series African Music Workshops
Robert Damm facilitated programs for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students at Bruce Upper Elementary School on March 10. Over 200 students were involved in the hands-on African music program. The workshop was part of the Bettersworth Leadership Lecture Series sponsored by the Office of Admissions and Scholarships. In February, Dr. Damm made presentations at the Piney Woods school outside of Jackson. Dr. Laurence C. Jones founded the Piney Woods Country Life School in 1909 to give rural African Americans a vocational education. Today, the school is one of five historically Black boarding schools left in the United States.
Music in Our Schools, March 3, 2006 Churchill Elementary A Celebration of African Heritage
Students in the MSU Chapter of the MENC participated in the celebration of Black History Month at Churchill Elementary School in West Point, MS on March 3rd. March is officially designated "Music in Our Schools Month" by MENC. The two programs (8:00 and 10:00 a. m.) featured 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders in collaboration with the MENC-MSU students, included a welcome song from Liberia, xylophone music from Zimbabwe, a call-and-response game song from Ghana, a traditional Anansi story from Africa, and recreational music from the Ga and Ewe people of Ghana. The programs included drumming, dancing, singing, and story telling. Anna Jones, who lives in West Point, is a culture-bearer from Ghana who participated in the celebration.
International Fiesta, April 1, 2006 Samba procession and African welcome song
Students in the MSU Chapter of the MENC assisted by several ladies from SAI performed as a drum ensemble for the 16th Annual International Fiesta on Saturday, April 1st. The Music Educators Drum Ensemble provided samba music for the Parade of Nations featuring flags from every country of the world, played an African Welcome song to gather the community for speeches by local dignitaries, and opened the entertainment schedule with a Ghanaian recreational song. The World Neighbors Association (WNA) is a volunteer organization which provides opportunities for cross-cultural programs for MSU students and faculty and local residents. The International Fiesta is one of the major activities sponsored by WNA which has become an annual tradition in Starkville.
Junk JamsWard-Stewart April 21, 2006
Music Educators National Conference-MSU Students finished the year with several programs utilizing recycled materials as musical instruments. The MENC-MSU Chapter prepared for the programs by attending the Scrap Arts Lyceum Concert and by attending rehearsals to practice arranging, improvising, and facilitating music for home-made instruments. Chapter members worked with Mrs. Cindy Melby, music specialist at Ward-Stewart Elementary School, to teach classes of 4th and 5th graders about making and playing home-made instruments.
Percussion Playground Cotton District Arts Festival, April 22, 2006
MENC members assisted local musician Randall McMillen by serving as facilitators for this year's Percussion Playground which was presented at the Cotton District Arts Festival on April 22. The Percussion Playground became a part of the Starkville Arts Festival seven years ago when Randall McMillen and friends first set up buckets, cedar stumps, water jugs, and corrugated plastic pipes as an interactive environment in which children of all ages could experiment with percussive music making. The Percussion Playground is designed to break down the distinctions between artist and audience, unlock the inhibitions of passers by, and encourage participation. No formal musical training is required to play the instrument in the playground; only curiosity and the basic human desire to make sounds.
Artist-in-Residence "On the Coast" February 20-24, 2006 Ocean Springs Middle School
The MSU College of Education sponsored a week-long Artist-in-Residency program in Ocean Springs. Dr. Damm of the Music Department and Mrs. Melby-Codling from the Department of Curriculum & Instruction taught at the Ocean Springs Middle School.
Dr. Damm taught 6th grade students traditional African songs, drum rhythms, and dances in collaboration with Mrs. Anna Schwartz, the Middle School Band Director. Mrs. Melby-Codling worked with art students in grades 6-8 on African masks in collaboration with Mrs. Gloria Lancaster and Mrs. Bertha Morgan, Art Teachers. The visit concluded with a Celebration of African Heritage in recognition of Black History Month on February 24. Damm and Melby-Codling united the students through creativity, self-expression, and celebration of African music, dance, and visual arts.
Native American Music at Camp Tik-A-Witha
The Oktibbeha County Service Unit and the Girl Scouts of Northeast Mississippi Council had their campout on the weekend of April 28-30. The theme for the campout was Native American Ways. Activities included the study of archery, canoeing, and other outdoor skills. Dr. Damm provided lessons on Native American music including making traditional instruments, singing, drumming, and dancing. Approximately 70 girls and their leaders took part in the campout.
Global Fusion, August 18, 2006 African Student Association Drumming Ensemble
The African Student Association Drumming Ensemble, including students from Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania performed on August 18 on the drill field. The program was part of Global Fusion sponsored by the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center. Global Fusion included a sampling of foods provided by international student associations, a soccer tournament, dancers from India, and African Drumming.
Jesse Robinson @ Ward-Stewart, May 9, 2006
Jesse Robinson and the Hip Waders Blues Band performed for all 5th and 6th grade students at Ward-Stewart Elementary School in Starkville on May 9. The program was made possible by the Holland Music For All Foundation. The study of the blues is part of Ward-Stewart's Mississippi history Curriculum. Students in Mrs. Cindy Melby's music class have studied the blues this year and some took part in the program by singing original blues songs, playing the guitar, or playing drums.
Native American Celebration at Ward-Stewart
A celebration of Native American music and dance on Friday, November 10th brought together MSU students enrolled in Creative Arts and students attending Stewart Elementary School. Robert J. Damm, coordinating the event which was part of the ongoing "Education through Collaboration: Learning the Arts while Celebrating Culture" series.
Special guests were culture-bearers Gary White Deer and Dr. Janie Willis-Zah, whose participation was made possible by the Holland Music For All Fund. Gary White Deer, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, has served as a cultural presenter and Choctaw dance leader for many events nationwide. Dr. Janie Willis-Zah, Oklahoma Choctaw and Jicarilla Apache, is a grant writer for the MS Band of Choctaw Indians. Gary White Deer and Dr. Janie Willis-Zah will present a Choctaw Prayer Song, a Muskogee-Creek Stomp Dance & Friendship Dance, a Choctaw Raccoon Dance, a Kiowa Gourd Dance & Rabbit Dance, a Kiowa Round Dance, and important information about Native American cultures.
Given that the celebration of Native American music and dance took place within the context of Ward-Stewart's "Lewis & Clark Day," Dr. Janie Willis-Zah also provided some remarks on Lewis & Clark from a Native American perspective. MSU students presented 1-hour lessons about Native American cultures to all 4th and 5th grade classes at Ward-Stewart on Thursday afternoon, shared in the celebration on Friday morning, and assisted with the stations throughout the day on Friday. For information on "Education through Collaboration: Learning the Arts while Celebrating Culture" see Damm's article in the Music Educators Journal (Nov. 2006).
Brickfire Project hosts Kwanzaa Celebration
Brickfire Project hosted "A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture" as part of their annual Kwanzaa celebration on Friday, December 22 at the Level III building on Main Street in Starkville. Kwanzaa is an African American celebration with focus on the traditional African values of family, community, responsibility, creativity, commerce, and self- improvement. The Brickfire African Drum Ensemble, consisting of twenty elementary school boys and girls, performed for the processional drum call and welcome dance.
Robert Damm, assisted by Mary Damm, Peter Ampim of Ghana, and Bertrand Nero of Ghana, worked with the children three weeks in preparation for the program. Ms. Kayla Gilmore served as dance instructor and choreographer for the welcome dance featuring a dozen elementary school girls. The celebration included songs, dances, stories, poems, skits, and speeches related to the Kwanzaa theme. Ekpe Obioto, from Memphis, presented additional African music, stories, and cultural information.