Reviewing 'Stories Through Song' Supported By the ASCAP Foundation in Honor of Joan Baez, 2015
Everyone has a story to tell, especially songwriters.
Through the generosity of the ASCAP Foundation, FOLK New England was able to bring four contemporary folk artists to three schools to conduct 15 learning sessions with elementary students in Cambridge and Watertown, MA.
The 2015 support for 'Stories Through Song' came from the ASCAP Foundation in honor of Joan Baez.
Alastair Moock, Ellis Paul, Marylou Ferrante, and Mark Kilianski each taught fourth grade students the backstory to folk songs, moderating classroom discussion about why a certain song might have been written, and talking with them about social influences the song may have had. Each of the four musicians on this year's roster presented Joan Baez's music and her important story as a jumping off point. One talented third grade classroom performed Joan Baez's All the Weary Mothers of the Earth and recorded it on video to share with others. Finally, the singer-songwriters helped students write their own folk song.
Participating schools are urban schools and the students represent a variety of cultures. Having folk music as part of their curriculum presents a shared experience for the class and different grade levels. Some students will build on these experiences over the years, and in some cases, they have even initiating songwriting and performing well after 'Stories Through Song' has ended.
A second grade teacher in an auditorium of 100 students reviewed the 'Stories Through Song' experience:
"For the past few weeks, we have been reading different types of folktales from around the world and the students were eager to talk about the similarities between folk music and folktales. For example, both have been passed down through oral traditions, there can be different variations of folk songs and folktales because they were not written down, all countries have their own types of folk music and folktales, etc. The students were also excited to learn how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used music as a way to unite people during marches. We have been studying how individuals throughout our county's history have worked for justice and equality, so the students are very familiar with Dr. King's speeches and marches."
FOLK New England seeks to create the next generation of citizens who will appreciate and understand the importance of folk music in our culture.