Ms. Ellis' Liddler Fiddlers
Mike Sudhalter | June 13, 2007
Last week, I briefly discussed meeting with Ms. Rhonda Ellis, a music education teacher in Searcy, Ark. Ellis started the Liddler Fiddler group at Searcy's Westside Elementary School. The school, and the music program specifically, benefited from Chely Wright's Reading, Writing and Rhythm Foundation.
The program recently wrapped up its third season, and Wright's organization donated 28 violins to it.
Ellis said the program focuses on old folks songs and the roots of country and bluegrass. She said "folk music is disappearing. I don't feel like we teach it's importance"."
That prompted her to implement a curriculum that emphasized American roots music. The students who master the curriculum participate in the LF group, which plays for civic organizations and visits area nursing homes.
Ellis wanted to give her students role models that they would admire. She contacted country artists and asked for autographed pictures. Now, her classroom wall is covered with a wall of fame.
That's how she met Wright, someone she connected with musically based on their musical and cultural backgrounds.
That helped the program, and Ellis said her students "will learn something it that will impact them their entire lives".
It's great to see teachers like Ellis make such an excellent impact for their students and to introduce them to something as special as American roots music. I hope more educators in Arkansas and nationwide follow her lead.