Arts in the Community
AGAR in the Schools, 2020-2021
Thanks to a special program through AGAR, Staunton River Middle School fourth grader, Liam Bartell, learned about medieval instruments this year, and created his own unique design.
The instruments on a table were
part of the instrument collection AGAR lent to the schools for the students to learn about unusual instruments, many homemade, from all over the world.
In two Bedford County Schools, Staunton River and Liberty Middle School, AMHERST GLEBE ARTS RESPONSE, INC (AGAR) presented a series of music and music history programs. Students watched an AGAR-produced-and-presented video of early music, “In Fortune’s Hands: Troubadours Past and Present” a virtual concert originally presented in AGAR’s Chamber Music series, performed by David McCormick and Brian Kay of Early Music Access Project. On February 8 and 15, 2021, AGAR presented David McCormick, who met virtually with four groups of students. Those sessions were recorded and two of the recordings were shared with eight other groups of students at Staunton River and Liberty Middle Schools. McCormick taught students the difference between materials used to make vielles and baroque and modern violins, played music of the medieval period, and showed students how music was written down then and now.
Gifted Resource Teacher Angela White introduced themes of students creating ideas for and building their own instruments. AGAR suggested that Ms. White borrow our World Music instrument collection for two exhibits that could go from one school to the other. The instruments ranged from a Chilean rainstick and an African djembe to Native American and Uzbek hand drums, Tibetan singing bowls to a Middle Eastern homemade oud. The collection also included turtle rattles and numerous shaking instruments from all over the world, made from bones, beans, gourds, and animal nails, These were shown to 46 fourth and fifth grade students in the two schools' gifted classes.
These students then began an instrument-making project, a STEM project, with Ms. White. The students used the engineering process for designing, building, testing, and presenting a product, their own instrument. The project also asked them to compose an original piece of music for their own instrument, and to create a musical notation suitable for their instrument. The STEM classes reach 46 "officially" gifted students in the two schools, and other AGAR music activities also reached an additional 58 students. Ms. White told AGAR in late May, 2021, “This musical project that AGAR brought to my students was a highlight this year, especially since, due to COVID-19, they could not go on field trips, or have live visitors in the school. The different parts of this project gave them connections to the broader community.”