TOP PHOTO: Fourth graders at Wynn Elementary School began building stringed musical guitars Thursday as participants in a workshop under the tutelage of Charlotte Underwood, a local stringed instrument crafter, who uses found objects to create unique and artistic instruments.
HABERSHAM, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – Fourth graders at Wynn Elementary School began building stringed musical guitars Thursday as participants in a workshop under the tutelage of Charlotte Underwood, a local stringed instrument crafter, who uses found objects to create unique and artistic instruments.
Elk Valley School fourth and fifth graders follow this week. About 34 students total will construct a three-string instrument that produces harmonic tones, which becomes a personal possession. In the process, students learn that with a little imagination, found objects qualify for materials; adding strings and tuning with keys results in a strumming musical tone, and that they can adapt, improve and overcome when family income is a challenge. It’s also an experience many of their ancestors faced and is a treasured part of local culture.
Underwood is a skilled crafter, producing custom guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles in her home workshop from customers across the continent. She is an accomplished artist, and a musician who grew up surrounded by a family of string-band musicians. “I grew up poor,” she said, “so it is easy for me to empathize with some of our children whose family cannot afford any kind of instrument. If children can be inspired to use found objects, that they can make and play an instrument, just as Howard Louie Bluie Armstrong did as a child, then that knowledge may be useful to many aspects of their futures.”
Three extra instruments will be selected from among those produced at the two schools when the project ends and be mounted in a display case in the Campbell County Justice Center at Jacksboro. The permanent exhibit will feature an audio story about the project and students and will be accessible by the public during justice center hours.
The project is sponsored by the Campbell Culture Coalition, a 501(C)(3) non-profit that produces about four student art heritage projects annually, as well as the Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival. Funding for this project is made possible by a grant from The Tennessee Arts Commission. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 02/23/2022-6AM)