I often hear people say that there is no money for art programs and projects anymore. It is no secret that schools have cut art and music programs for budgetary reasons and that some communities throughout the United States have downsized major events or done away with them altogether. It makes me sad to think that there are kids who do not have arts experiences readily available to them in their school system.
What I love the most about living in the Lansing community is that people do not sit around and mourn such losses forever – they are inspired by it to create new opportunities.
Last summer, Tamiko and MC Rothhorn of Lansing approached Chris Foster and myself about the possibility of creating a community music program that focused on exposing kids to folk music. Being musical people ourselves, Chris and I agreed to help in any way that we could. After months of planning, support from The Ten Pound Fiddle in East Lansing and a year trial run, Fiddle Scouts became an accessible music program for families in the area.
The program is volunteer based and hosted by the Michigan State University Community Music School once a month in East Lansing. Children of all ages come with their families and enjoy a twenty minute music segment with a featured guest artist, a twenty minute musical workshop with two of the Fiddle Scout leaders, and participate in group songs at both the beginning and the end of the event. The program was designed to be hands-on and interactive, which allows kids to be creatively stimulate and involved. The leaders (Tamiko, MC, Chris, and myself) wanted the program to have reoccurring activities that kids would remember how to do each month they came. This is where things like the opening and closing songs became important.
Fiddle Scouts kicked off its second season on Saturday, September 21st with a call-and-response themed music lesson. Children were divided into two groups, five and under and six and up. One group listened to the guest musicians’ performance while the other went to the workshop. After 20 minutes, the two groups would switch activities. We were fortunate enough to start off the year with Tiyi and David from the local group called Lake Effect. Their repertoire consisted of song building activities and followed the call-and-response theme so well that both groups were engaged.
It amazes me how quickly kids can pick up on a concept. Even the smaller children wanted to sing a phrase at the Fiddle Scout leaders and have them sing it back to them. To me, there is nothing more heartwarming then seeing children truly embracing music as a fun activity. I feel very lucky to live in a community that has the resources for these kinds of programs to exist.
You can find more information about Fiddle Scouts on The Ten Pound Fiddle website or you can view the flyer for the upcoming season here. For any questions about how you can be involved with this community program, please feel free to contact Tamiko Rothhorn at email@example.com.
-Abby Rudnicki, Contributing Writer