Get Rhythm: Wright students learn music, rhythm

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Fifth graders at Wright Elementary are tapping, thumping and shaking out a rhythm that is getting them recognition across the county.

Since the beginning of the school year, music teacher Cherly Gibbons has been creating a class-wide rhythm section by teaching each student in the fifth grade class the basic principles of tempo, rhythm, melody and beat.

And from the responses that the students have received at two recent concerts, their training is paying off.

Gibbons, who has taught at Wright for two years, said the key to teaching the students to get into the music and stay on beat is believing that all students can learn to play.

She said by giving every student an opportunity to learn music all of the students feel that they can achieve.

"Everybody feels like they're important," she said. "Everybody feels like they are a part."

She said watching the students grow in their musical abilities has been very rewarding.

The students' ability have now developed to a point where they can help Gibbons arrange the pieces.

With an ensemble of xylophones, tubano drums, glockenspiels, contra bass bars, maracas, and cowbells, the students have learned to create a wide variety of styles of music.

Over the Christmas break, the fifth graders gave a performance of the selection of songs to parents and community members and at last Thursday's Shelby County School Board meeting the group played for the board.

One of the instruments that the students played at the performances that drew particular interest from the audience was 20 white 5-gallon buckets.

Using drumsticks, the students tapped out a rhythm while other students added melody and harmony with other instruments.

Gibbons said she got the idea from watching the Anderson County High School marching band use buckets in their performance.

Students in the class said they look forward to learning new songs in the class and having the opportunity to play in front of an audience.

Michael Brauner, who got to play the large contra bass bars during class on Tuesday, said the class has helped him to have a greater appreciation for music.

"It's just fun," he said.