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By Christine Funk
Special to The PREVIEW
Music touches each and every one of us in a unique way. Whether we relate to the words of a song or we just enjoy the tempo of a particular piece, music is a necessary part of many people’s lives.
Having a program in our high school that focuses on songwriting and expressing oneself through music has transformed students’ lives and brought tears to the eyes of parents, friends and teachers. The mission of the Americana program is to explore creativity through music and self-expression. The class is designed to have students actively performing, writing and recording original music. They also study the connection between American Roots music and history and culture.
A sense of community has formed around this class because to share one’s music, you need an audience. We are thankful for all the folks that come to concerts and who support the performance part of the class. This program needs to raise money to continue to update sound/recording equipment, bring in guest artists, provide instruments when needed and give a select group of students each year the chance to go to Sisters, Ore., for a songwriting workshop.
The small town of Sisters is where the Americana Project originated under the leadership of Brad Tisdel. When Bob Hemenger met Brad and learned about the program, he understood the benefit this curriculum would bring to students in Pagosa Springs. If you are inspired by music and are community minded, come help with our efforts to keep the arts alive in our high school with this unique program.
The school board sees the value of the Americana Project so much so that they have added a beginning guitar class to give students an opportunity to learn guitar or improve their skills before signing up for the Americana class.
A few other facts about the program: 130 students have gone through the Americana program, a nine-week course was held at the middle school, numerous national music acts have been brought to our town because of this program and there are future plans to add a guitar making class modeled after the Sisters flagship program.
The talent that has come out of the Americana Project has been amazing. This program not only helps students to become more confident, heal or grow emotionally, it provides something all teenagers need — friendship and connection to each other’s aspirations for the future.
Please come to our third annual Americana Project fundraiser on Sunday, May 4, 1-3 p.m., on Reservoir Hill at the new gazebo. This year’s theme is musical chairs, where local artists and students have made chairs into art for the “live” auction. Brooks Lindner will host the fundraiser and we will provide food and entertainment by the students and Tyller Gummersall. Come enjoy an afternoon getting to know folks in the community and the students that have benefited so much from this program.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the Pagosa Springs Americana Project Facebook page. Bring a lawn chair. Shuttle service will start from the post office parking lot at 12:30 p.m.
Don’t forget, tonight, May 1, the talented Americana students will be performing before the incredible Jaden Carlson Band — a concert not to be missed. Jaden’s music will blow your mind — 7 p.m. tonight.