Ukuleles in Paw Paw

December 19th was the Paw Paw Schools Christmas program, and it was a good one. The elementary kids sang Christmas songs with their classes. Each grade did a wonderful job with their songs. After their performance, a quick setup was done for the band students. The high school drumline marched into the gym to a catchy cadence, with both the high school and middle school band members behind them. Unfortunately, this portion of the program had to be cut short due to it being the end of the day. However, it was a wonderful performance from all the kids who participated.

IMG_0895Then, the surprise! The fourth graders had no idea what they were about to receive. Robert Wallace,  the band director at Paw Paw, presented a ukulele to each of them! Before school starts back up for the new year, the 19 ukuleles will be tuned and ready to be part of the fourth grade music class instruction!  More photos and updates to follow!

BlackCat Music Cooperative is honored to have helped bring more music opportunities to Paw Paw. These ukuleles would not be possible without Robert Wallace. He was one of 17 teachers in Morgan County who secured a small mini-grant from Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation. With those funds, the ukuleles were purchased from BlackCat Music Shop. BCMC picked up the remaining costs, supplied hangers for safe storage, and even gave Robert Wallace his own special skull-shaped ukulele in honor of Paw Paw Schools’ mascot – a pirate!  His hard work and dedication has impacted these students and you can tell that they are thriving! So, from us to him, thank you for fostering the love of music in kids of all ages at Paw Paw!

This community of people are often our forgotten Morgan County residents and we want to change that. We are striving to find more opportunities to provide music for these wonderful children and their families.

 

Boys and Girls Club Ukulele and Song Club

 

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It’s been a busy few weeks here at BCMC, and we’ve had a lot of stuff going on with all of our programs. Due to the interest that some of the younger kids had in our Guitar Club at the Boys and Girls Club here in Berkeley Springs, we decided to begin a weekly ukulele club. This past Monday, December 4th, was our first club meeting. We brought ten ukuleles with us, and all ten were used! Some kids did end up getting picked up by their parents or had to go do other things while the club was happening, but we still had a lot of fun.

The ten ukuleles that were given to the Boys and Girls club are from the Mahalo Rainbow Series in the color purple. Pictures just do not do these ukes justice. Not only are they a gorgeous hue, but they play nicely too!  The kids had a great time learning from Mike Kligerman of the Tri-State Ukeclectics Orchestra, with a little help from the executive director of BCMC,  Janet Gauthier. We can’t wait to head back next week! Aren’t they just the cutest? We do what we do because of smiles like this little girls’.

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This program would not be possible without funding from the generous grant we received earlier in the year from The Tom and Virginia Seely Foundation and the assistance of the Boys and Girls Club Berkeley Springs branch director, Chris Risinger. A huge thank you to them for letting us bring music to these deserving kids!

 

Boys and Girls Club Guitar Club

As many of you may know, November 1st was the start of our guitar club at the Boys and Girls Club in Berkeley Springs. A lot of preparation went into making sure this program would be a success from the get-go. Before we could get this club off the ground, we needed to approach the Boys and Girls Club about starting the program, find funding for the project, and search for a talented instructor.

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We approached Chris Risinger, director of the B & G Club – Berkeley Springs branch, with our vision for the program. After some planning and logistics, we were ready to find funding and an instructor. A local guitar player and youth group leader in Berkeley Springs, Jason Hiles, expressed interest in teaching the lessons. With Jason on board, finding money was the next step. We applied for and received a grant from a generous donor through the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation. This grant completely covered the costs to run the program for its first year, including the guitars and all the accessories: gig bags, tuners, straps and books. Our thanks go out to the family foundation who so generously funded this program.

Pictured above are the absolutely beautiful Cort brand guitars we purchased for the kids. They sound as good as they look! If the kids who signed up for the program stick with it, these guitars are theirs to keep after the school year is over. We are very excited to see how these kids improve over the course of the year, not only with their guitar playing skills, but also with their overall self-esteem and school performance. Stay tuned!

Fun Festivities at BCMC This Past Week

It’s been a really busy week for us here at BlackCat Music Cooperative. This past weekend was the always popular Apple Butter Festival here in Berkeley Springs, WV. While the festival started Saturday right after the conclusion of the parade, Apple Butter had basically began for us at the beginning of the week. We at BCMC had been working on an activity for National Kids Music Day on October 6th. We partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle here in Berkeley Springs to have a fun time making some shakers and playing along with the Tri-State Ukeclectic Uke Club. The kids had a lot of fun, and so did the uke club. Below is a video of songs that the uke club played with the kids.  Credits to Martha Rhodes of Travel Morgan County for the footage.

We did another fun activity a couple of days ago at Warm Springs Intermediate School. About a month ago, BCMC bought and received 25 colorful Mahalo ukuleles with the help of Morgan County Partnership. There was no school on Monday for the students, so what better day to bring them in to the teachers and have a little bit of a master class teaching them a few basics? With the help of the Tri-State Ukeclectic Orchestra, the teachers were taught basic chords and strumming techniques. In about an hour, the teachers were eager to accompany the Uke Club on Country Roads, a well-known and almost guaranteed favorite of every West Virginian. Here’s a lovely recap from Angie Hott from Positive Action. Thanks, Angie!

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20 Important Benefits of Music in Our Schools

Nearly everyone enjoys music, whether by listening to it, singing, or playing an instrument. But despite this almost universal interest, many schools are having to do away with their music education programs. This is a mistake, with schools losing not only an enjoyable subject, but a subject that can enrich student’s lives and education. Read on to learn why music education is so important, and how it offers benefits even beyond itself. Continue reading “20 Important Benefits of Music in Our Schools”