EXPLORING THE ROOTS OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC & DANCE by: SHARON MAYR, MICHELE PSORAS, DIANE AMARAL, TRACEY MYLIN April 9, 2003 "Grab your whammydiddle, jaws harp, and limberjack, and do-si-do your partner!" That’s exactly what the students at Hollifield Station Elementary did during the weeks of January 27-February 7. Slim Harrison, renowned musician, educator, and storyteller, took the students on an exploration of the roots of American Folk music and dance. This two-week residency was sponsored by the PTA and partially funded by the Howard County Arts Council through a grant from Howard County, the Maryland State Arts Council, and Nordstrom. On his first morning, Mr. Harrison introduced a variety of traditional American folk instruments. The origin and cultural history of each instrument was briefly discussed and then the instrument was used to play a song. Towards the end of the morning, students were invited to come on stage and play in a jug band with the many instruments Mr. Harrison had brought to the school. During the rest of the week, students took part in an instrument workshop during regular music classes. Each student was given a chance to play a variety of instruments including the Jug, Wash-Tub Bass, Washboard, and Spoons. At the end of the workshop, Mr. Harrison fiddled some classic tunes accompanied by the students in a “Jug Band.” Mr. Harrison also explained how to make instruments out of recycled junk and encouraged students to make their own instruments at home. During the second week, Mr. Harrison conducted dance workshops with the students during P.E. classes. Each grade learned a different traditional country dance. Students were excited to learn their dance so they could perform it at the end of the week for their fellow students. Mr. Harrison accompanied the dance sessions with his fiddle and other instruments. On the last day of the residency, students were to take part in an authenic Hoedown with Mr. Harrison “calling the tunes.” Although the snowstorm caused the schools to close that day, Mr. Harrison will return on June 6 for the event. Each grade will demonstrate their country dance to their fellow students. Music will be provided by the Sunnyland Band made up of students playing their own homemade instruments. Hope to see you at the Hoedown! PICTURED: Hollifield Students play limberjacks on stage with Slim Harrison.