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Young Jeffersontown Musicians Create Moving Melodies

Writers  /  Kathryn Wigger & Ashley Sumner

When you walk through the doors of Farmer Elementary and Tully Elementary before school on Tuesday and Thursday mornings the sound of music fills the halls. You see students engaged and actively making music, singing, dancing, playing instruments and improvising. You hear students behind xylophones, metallophones, glockenspiels and drums playing, creating and composing melodies and rhythms together. These are the student musicians of the Treble Makers Orff Ensemble.

The Treble Makers Orff Ensemble is a group of musicians made up of third, fourth and fifth-grade students from Farmer Elementary and Tully Elementary in Jeffersontown, directed by Ashley Sumner and Kathryn Wigger. This group of young musicians performs, creates and improvises using xylophones, recorders and percussion instruments while also integrating movement and speech. These young musicians are productive collaborators as they work effectively to accomplish the common goal of music making, even though they are at two different schools.

Using FaceTime and written music notation, students create and compose together, giving each other thoughtful and meaningful feedback on compositions and musical creations. Students not only practice separately at their own schools but also practice at a central location that allows students to meet and make music together. This unique collaboration offers students who attend these public schools in Jeffersontown the opportunity to make music and form lasting friendships, while growing into emerging innovators. They ask each other musical questions, they challenge one another and together they seek to learn and take musical risks, making adjustments that result in beautiful music that is creative and innovative.

Musicians in the Treble Makers are taught using the Orff Schulwerk approach and perform music by Carl Orff, as well as music they have created themselves. Orff Schulwerk is Music for Children. It is a model for music and movement education that offers opportunity for active and creative music making by all children. Developed by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, the Orff Schulerk builds musicianship through singing, playing instruments, speech, movement and improvising. Through the Orff Schulwerk, musicians become prepared and resilient learners, demonstrating musical knowledge, reflecting on their musical successes and challenges and making appropriate adjustments in order to grow musically.

The Treble Makers enjoy performing for their community. Throughout the school year, the Treble Makers not only perform in their schools for their peers but also perform for community events, such as playing Christmas Carols at local health facilities, performing at the Festival of Trees and Lights and performing for music educators at the Kentucky Orff Schulwerk Association and the Kentucky Music Educators Association Convention. Performing outside their local schools allows the Treble Makers to give back and share their love of music with their local community. It allows them to pause where they are in their learning process to showcase their musical skills and reflect on the hard work and dedication it takes to be music makers and learners.

The directors of the Treble Makers are Kathryn Wigger and Ashley Sumner. Wigger is the music teacher at Tully Elementary and Sumner is the music teacher at Farmer Elementary. The two met eight years ago while completing their Orff Schulwerk Certification at the University of Kentucky. Wanting to enhance their school music programs, they created a combined Orff Ensemble that has grown over the years from a small ensemble, that only performed once a year, to what is now the Treble Makers.

Wigger is currently in her ninth year as the music teacher at Tully Elementary, teaching general music k-5. Kathryn was named the 2017-18 Jefferson County Public Schools music teacher of the year. She received her Bachelors in Harp Performance from New England Conservatory of Music and a Masters in Secondary Education from Xavier University. She is a Nationally Board Certified teacher. Sumner graduated from Murray State University with a Bachelors Degree in Music Education and from Walden University with a Masters in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. Sumner is currently in her 14th year teaching in Jefferson County Public Schools and is currently teaching general music at Farmer Elementary to students k-5.

The Treble Makers are honored to be invited to play at the Jeffersontown Family Performing Arts Night, organized by Rhonda Rowland-Jeffersontown Arts Program Manager, on Friday, February 15 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. They will be playing pieces from “Music for Children” by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, arranged specifically for the Treble Makers by ensemble directors Kathryn Wigger and Ashley Sumner. In these pieces, students will improvise and perform melodies and rhythms together, as to showcase their musicianship and confidence in music making.

Jeffersontown Family Performing Arts Night will be at the Jeffersonian.  Wheeler Elementary will open the performance, singing old favorites from “Get America Singing” from Hal Leonard by John Jacobson.  Louisville Trio will accompany the Wheeler students who are directed by Sara Manchak, Integrated Music Teacher.

The community is also invited to join the Treble Makers at their Spring performance on Thursday, April 18 at 6:00 at Tully Elementary School.

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