Sections    Thursday September 20th, 2018
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Flagstaff students learn from artists in residence


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  • Karin Eberhard/Flagstaff Unified School District

With Help From Keith Nicolson's Woods Class, Coconino High School Students Learned Aspects Of Taiko Drum Building. Photo Courtesy Of Flagstaff Unified School District

Two “Artist in Residence” programs at FUSD high schools this past semester have had a big impact on the students and teachers. 

At Summit High School, English teacher Doug McGlothlin invited Amber Tibbits from the Arizona Theater Company to help his class understand and perform Shakespeare for a week.  Every day the class was given a new challenge with their scene and asked to take their reading to another level. 

Flagstaff students learn from artists in residence Taiko-DrumInside

With help from Keith Nicolson’s woods class, Coconino High School students learned aspects of Taiko drum building. Photo courtesy of Flagstaff Unified School District

At first, the students were hesitant but Ms. Tibbits and Mr. McGlothlin had the entire class engaged and by Friday the students gave a wonderful performance.  In the end the students analyzed their characters motives within the scene and in the context of the play, were able to comprehend the historical context of the play, analyze the other characters’ motives, paraphrase the dialogue to modern language, and evaluate their own performance. 

Students learned new skills such as, blocking, voice inflection, stage direction and critiquing.  The students gained ownership of the material and a true sense of pride at their accomplishment.  Summit High School would like to thank Amber Tibbits, the Arizona Theater Company and the Flagstaff Community Foundation for this wonderful experience.

In December of 2013, at Coconino High School with the help of Marshall School Taiko Resident Artist Tony Trapasso and FUSD staff member David Ramos the Taiko drum experience has expanded beyond Marshall Elementary School to two high schools.  Taiko, which means large drum, is a dynamic art form from Japan.   The taiko has been a significant tool in the history of Japan.

In cooperation with Keith Nicolson’s woods class, students learned aspects of Taiko drum building from cutting, dismantling, gluing, reassembling, sanding, staining and sealing the barrel as well as the process of rawhide application for the drum heads.  Because none of the students were familiar with Taiko drums, this project provided an atmosphere of teamwork towards building something completely new.

All students who helped build the drum were given an invitation from David Ramos to take Taiko classes and eventually work their way into the performance group.

Next stop is a dance and drum performance at Summit High School on March 11 to launch their Taiko and Dance Clubs.  Once that club is established at Summit High School then Taiko will move into other FUSD schools who are interested in the program.

This Taiko community building project is made possible through grants from the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and donations from local nonprofit, Cross Cultural Dance Recourses’ and David Ramos.  Thank you to Mr. Trapasso, Mr. Ramos and Mr. Nicolson for your hard work and dedication to the students of FUSD.