American Folk Music: An Experiential Journey

Bruce Hooper of the NJ Regional Day School in Winslow Township, Camden County, was awarded a $2,945 grant from the Hipp Foundation, and the project is designated as an Edithe Fulton Grant for the Arts.

Students with multiple disabilities who take the Fine and Performing Arts elective make, learn to play, and perform on two simple folk instruments. This hands-on course centers on American traditional folk music concentrating on the tunes played in Appalachia, home of the dulcimer which is one of two musical instruments indigenous to the United States. Students begin with the construction of a four-string guitar using a kit. Students learn chords in the most common keys for folk music. Instruction is modified for students as necessary. Students then construct an Appalachian Mountain dulcimer. Students are taught to play simple folk tunes, while also learning the history, lore, and traditions of making folk music in Appalachia.

The culminating unit on traditional American Folk music is a celebration of what the students learned throughout the year at public performances. The students introduce the instruments and the songs and explain what they learned about American Folk music, as well as life and music in Appalachia.

A rubric is used to measure each phase of the project. A daily checklist is also incorporated that measures the projects’ short term and overall objectives, student time on task, and cooperative behavior exhibited by students. A portfolio of photos show each stage of task completion.

The instruments created by these students allow future students with multiple disabilities the opportunity to experience learning to play traditional American Folk music on a four-string guitar and Appalachian Mountain dulcimer.

For further information, contact:

Bruce Hooper
School - (856) 767-0997