Oshkosh Elementary School students celebrate Black History Month through music

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) – Some elementary school students in Oshkosh are celebrating Black History Month through song and dance. A residency, funded by a grant from “Project SOAR” and the school’s parent-teacher organization, teaches students about African drumming and the culture of Ghana.

From drums to dancing, students at Carl Traeger Elementary School are trying something new in their music class this week. “I learned to drum in other languages,” explains Armando Almanza, a third-grade student.

The lesson is called “Sights and Sounds of Ghana”. According to 3rd grade student Trinity Stadler, “My favorite part is learning a different language while playing the drums.”

Taught by world-renowned Oshkosh-born percussionist Mark Powers, “Sights and Sounds of Ghana” is a hands-on lesson in African culture.

“We focus on a lot of music, for me those are some of the important roots of what we know as American music, pop and things like that. And we’re just starting to get a taste of some rhythms, some languages, some dances, especially from the Ewe people of Ghana,” Powers says.

From drumbeats to movement, immersion learning is truly a hit with students.

“Any way to make it more tangible, I would say, to the kids and they’re learning and they don’t even know it. It was just fun to see what was going on behind the scenes,” the music teacher says Jennifer Schmidt.

While the Sights and Sounds of Ghana focuses on dance and music, the takeaways are much more than that. Powers adds: “Some people, like me, will find such interest in other parts of the world that they will have to travel and spend time in those areas and some will not. But, they can still glean little tidbits of information and I think the more we learn about others, the more we can relate to and get along with other people.

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