Liberty Rural Learning Cooperative: Rural Musicology and Videography

Art Discipline: Multi-Disciplinary

The Liberty Rural Learning Cooperative found that students educated in rural Colorado are rarely taught about rural culture contributions in contemporary society which leads to dismantling interest in local heritage which is important to developing a strong sense of community belonging. The goal of the courses offered through the LRLC is to identify unique local and regional cultural assets that will inspire new and creative approaches to traditional art practices based on the student’s authentic view of their own community. These courses are designed as intergenerational learning experiences that foster positive social engagement for both older and younger generations. The LRLC unveiled their first class, Rural Musicology, at Liberty School this spring as a case study in order to create a solid project model to inform the fully operational program. Liberty Students were offered the course Rural Musicology as an elective credit where they would investigate music happenings in their community while having the opportunity to explore the technical world of videography to create documentaries to share on various websites in order to pave a pathway to support an education system where rural and urban cultural contributions are equally important to building a more diverse vision of America. Students worked with professional videographer Sarah Megyesy, artist in residence, for video shoots of Mullen Guitar, builders of the world’s finest pedal steel guitar, Grassroots Music Night, where local musicians play, and Rik Chance, a musician and carpenter who builds his own instruments. Through learning about pedal steel guitars, auto harps and interviewing musicians students have seen first hand the power music has on community. Students also had independent study curriculum that involved researching folklore projects, such as Alan Lomax, and video filming, editing and interviewing techniques. Rural Musicology will present during Liberty’s Spring Gala, premiering their documentary shorts. Overall LRLC’s pilot program was a success. During the first class students complained, “there is no culture out here except maybe farmer culture but who cares about that.” By the end of the program a student shared: "I always thought living in the country just meant the same old country music that everyone knows all of the words to, but Rural Musicology has allowed me to capture a new perspective of how it brings everyone together.” Challenges to the course were motivating the students to keep up on their independent study course work and completing their writing assignments. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) worked directly with LRLC to ensure compliance with current state and federal education standards. With this support from the CDE a larger goal has been established, to build a model for integrated and community-based arts education in rural communities statewide, helping to build continuity and equity in rural education initiatives throughout Colorado.

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