Originally published in The Nugget News, September 27, 2016


Sisters Folk Festival (SFF), in partnership with the Sisters School District is offering an after-school strings program as part of the Studio to School (S2S) initiative. The goal is to introduce 4th- through 6th-grade students to the violin and cello, and to potentially integrate these instruments into its already-popular Americana Project programming.

“As part of a year-three goal of the S2S initiative, we are working with Sisters Elementary School music teacher Shelly Hicks to start this program,” said Brad Tisdel, creative director of Sisters Folk Festival and project lead for the grant. “Shelly has over 15 years playing violin in a variety of settings, and is excited to share that experience with students in the District. In providing support for the visual arts and music education K-8, we are building foundational skills that will blossom as students move through the District on their educational journey.”

The program will touch on many musical styles, and primarily use the O’Connor Method of string playing, developed by legendary player Mark O’Conner, based around American music. A few of the goals of the program are:

to learn the fundamentals of stringed-instrument technique, to play as a team in an ensemble format, encourage creativity through improvisation, and to expand students’ thinking of Americana musical styles, from Irish and Scottish fiddle, to folk, jazz and classical, so that the student musicians become versatile and appreciate the many genres of music that are possible while playing a stringed instrument.

In 2014, Sisters Folk Festival received the 3-5 year “Studio to School” grant through the Oregon Community Foundation for K-8 music and arts education. Over the course of the last three years of the initiative, SFF has hired Karen Williams, a visual arts teacher at Sisters Elementary School; purchased 16 digital keyboards for a 5th-grade general music class; bought 20 iPads for digital storytelling and arts integration; provided teacher professional development and Storyline training; and multiple guest artists and artist residencies, one of which was a community-wide River Celebration and art installation of a river scene on the elementary school fence.

The club will be offered for two eight-week classes, and will run Tuesdays/Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Sisters Middle School band room. Dates are October 11-December 7, and January 10-March 1, 2017. Registration is with the lead secretaries at the elementary and middle schools, and cost is $90 per student. Scholarships are offered through SFF and the Americana Project Arts Outreach Scholarship Fund and can be accessed through Family Access Network.

For more information, call the festival office at 541-549-4979.