Monday, April 3, 2017

Fourth Graders Perform with Adama Dembele

Claxton fourth graders received a treat in March—a series of workshops with acclaimed West African drummer, Adama Dembele.

Dembele, who grew up in Cote d'Ivoire and currently resides in Asheville, is a 33rd generation djembe player. A djembe is a rope-turned, skin-covered drum, which the students learned to play. Dembele taught our fourth graders how the djembe is used for communication and storytelling. He also instructed them in the dance moves that help tell stories.

The residency culminated in a performance for kindergarteners and parents. Each class presented a different rhythm, with both drumming and dancing. Class members introduced each piece and demonstrated an impressive knowledge and understanding of West African culture.

Here's a taste of the performance:

Learn more about Adama Dembele and where you can see him perform here

Our thanks to the Asheville City Schools Foundation and its TAPAS program for making this residency possible, along with the Claxton PTO for additional funding and Mr. Butler and Coach Swain for making it happen!

Monday, March 27, 2017

2nd Grade Jam at the Orange Peel

Last week saw one of our favorite events of the year, the 2nd graders' Dr. Bob's Sound School performance at the Orange Peel.

The performance was the culmination of a unit of study on the science of sound. Our students explored the motion of different sound waves and how they affect our ear drums to produce different sounds—high, low, fast, slow. If that makes it sound like our 2nd graders are learning physics ... it's because they are!

Every Asheville City Schools elementary school participates in this amazing program sponsored by the Bob Moog Foundation. Of course, Claxton, with its arts-integration theme, musical chops, and incredible second grade teaching team supported by Mr. Butler, always puts on the best show (in our biased opinion). Take a look at it here:

Great thanks to all who guided our kids through this terrific learning experience. Special thanks to the Bob Moog Foundation for making it possible!

Learn more about Dr. Bob's Sound School (and see CLX teachers Mr. Butler and Ms. Wertheim represent!) here:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dear Edwina, Tell Us How Claxton Kids Pulled Off Such an Amazing Show!

Before the beginning of each performance of Dear Edwina, Jr. this weekend, the audience learned that the fourth and fifth graders in the play put the whole thing on themselves. They blocked it, they choreographed it (big shout-out to Maddie Peeples, who took the lead and showed her talent), they put together the set and their costumes.

The result?

 An amazing show!

The incredible leadership of Ms. Rigsby and Mr. Butler showed in the kids on stage as they sang, danced, made us laugh, and told a story about shining in whatever it is that makes you you. 

We can't imagine a better theme or a better showcase of our students' many talents, on display through the magic of arts-integrated education.

Many thanks to everyone who helped make this production happen!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Author C.M. Surrisi Keeps 4th Graders on the Edge of Their Seats

Claxton was very lucky to get a visit from author C.M. Surrisi on Friday!

Ms. Surrisi told our fourth graders about how she became a writer—starting with reading lots and lots of books when she was their age.

Then she read from her first middle-grade mystery, The Maypop Kidnapping ... and our kids were entranced. When she stopped at a particularly tense moment, the cries were likely heard throughout the building!

As a bonus treat, she also read from her new mystery, Vampires on the Run. It was a huge hit as well.

Both books are available at Spellbound Children's Books and Malaprop's. And we'll be getting several copies for the Claxton library. Demand is high!

Many thanks to Ms Surrisi for sharing her time and talents with our kids, to Spellbound Children's Books for bringing Ms. Surrisi to us, and to Ms. Brown for organizing this opportunity to remind kids that writing is an art too!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Winter Concert Warms Our Hearts

Last night saw one of our favorite Claxton traditions, the Winter Concert. Students from 1st through 5th grade performed (the kindergartners are prepping for the Celebration of Learning in the spring), showing off just how much confidence and know-how a school of the arts can instill in young children.

Not only was there singing, but students played an array of instruments—ukelele, recorder flute, piano, drums, xylophone, and, of course, bells, a 2nd grade tradition:

Here are our 4th graders accompanied by the Advanced Recorders morning music group on a particularly timely song:

In keeping with Claxton's believe in inclusion, the concert featured not only traditional Christmas songs, but music from Israel, Mexico, Nicaragua, Australia, and African-American traditions as well. 

We wish we could have recorded the entire concert! We did get the finale:

Our greatest appreciation to Mr. Butler for once again organizing such a massive undertaking with grace, patience, and an eye toward making sure everyone—students and their families—had a wonderful time!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Claxton Students Learn About West African Music

Claxton students were lucky enough to meet Sean Gaskell, a musician who plays the Kora, on Friday.

The Kora is a 21-string harp that originated in Gambia, West Africa. A melodic and peaceful sounding instrument, it often accompanies songs of hardship and war, some of them dating back as much as 800 years, to the founding of the Mande empire. The Kora is traditionally played by oral and musical historians knows as Griots ("Gree-ohs").

The students loved hearing music that sounds so very different from what they're used to and were fascinated by the idea of an instrument with a whopping 21 strings!

Hear it for yourself:

Once again, we're thankful for how arts integration can expose kids to so many different parts of the world and teach them to be open-minded and excited about other cultures. Thank you, Mr. Butler, for bringing Sean Gaskell to Claxton!  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Claxton Second Graders Perform at LEAF!

Claxton second graders showed the audience at this fall's Lake Eden Arts Festival ("LEAF") what arts integration is all about when they performed with West African musician Arouna Diarra and the AZA Band.

Diarra grew up in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, an arts-rich community. He plays the n'goni and balafon and performs with Biko Cassini and Jessie Lehman, who also participated in the residency.

The three musicians taught second graders about West African musical traditions, including the call-and-response you can see in their rehearsal video here:

In this  Mountain XPress interview, they talk about how they teach kids and about their work with LEAF in Schools and Streets.

The residency culminated in a performance at LEAF!

Many thanks to Mr. Butler for arranging the residency and partially funding it from his music budget. And thank you to the Claxton PTO, who provided additional funding through its teacher mini-grant program. We are so lucky to have a community that provides our students with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like this one!