"Aspen is like the Energizer Bunny - just plug her in and let her go!"  A. Hall, 3rd Grade Teacher, Sontag Elementary

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For Grades Pre-K - 5:​​​​​​​​​​​


Songs and Poems for Young Ears

(Pre-K, Kindergarten, Grade 1 ) Accomplished singer/songwriter and poet, Aspen Black, will come into your classroom to perform a variety of original songs and poems that will engage your students in echo speaking, rhyming, choral singing, and acting out the content of the piece.  Active listening, group participation, following directions, and oral expression skills will all be practiced in this program.  Additionally, Aspen will ask the students to make basic predictions, identify repetitive sounds, and connect pictures with words. A take-home craft, that the students use as a prop to act out one of the poems, rounds outs this fun and engaging presentation. (Session length: 20-45 minutes, or one standard class period)


Optional extension activity: A guided poetry-writing session can follow.


Coordinating VA Standards of Learning: K.1a,b; 1.1c,d, (optional 1.4b).  If you are in a state other than VA, similar standards will be applicable for your state.


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The Poetic Theater 

(Grade 2)  Award-winning poet, Aspen Black, will come into your classroom to perform an original poem, dramatically, (complete with costume, props, and voices).  She will then lead students to participate in dramatizing one of her original poems in a reader's theater skit format.  Once familiar with the format, Aspen will guide students to create their own script based on one of her original musical poems, paying special attention to setting, action, characterization, main idea, and supporting details.  To conclude the program. students will present their creation in a reader's theater format.  (Session length: 45 minutes or one standard class period)


Optional extension activity: Aspen will guide students to present their skit to other grades, or the whole school, complete with props and basic costuming.


Coordinating VA Standard of Learning: 2.1.  If you are in a state other than VA, similar standards will be applicable for your state.


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Stories in Poem and Song

(Grades 1, 2, 3)  Performing poet and songwriter, Aspen Black, will come into your classroom to perform, then lead a detailed analysis on the content and structure of, a variety of original songs and poems.  Students will identify and discuss character, setting, main idea, oral rhythm that helps convey meaning, author's purpose, words or phrases that convey feeling or appeal to the senses, and the use of intonation to deepen expression.  Older students will also compare and contrast characters, settings, events, make predictions, draw conclusions, and discuss the author's craft and purpose with the original author.  (Session length: 45 minutes or one standard class period)


Optional extension activity: Aspen will guide students to rewrite one of the poems, either by changing the events to create a new ending, or changing a basic component such as characterization or setting, to appeal to a different audience and/or bring new understanding.


Coordinating VA Standards of Learning: 1.9, 1.13, 2.8, 3.5.  If you are in a state other than VA, similar standards will be applicable for your state.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Poetic Wordplay


(Grades 2 & 3) Performing poet and songwriter, Aspen Black, will come into your classroom, present original poems and/or songs, then guide your students in a detailed analysis and changing of each work.   Students will be led to identify, create, or change words using: homophones, synonyms, antonyms, prefixes, suffixes, and compound words.  Vocabulary will be increased by identifying difficult words and decoding them using root words and affixes, as well as context clues. Lastly, students will become word detectives, unveiling a funny poem by substituting synonyms, antonyms, homophones, compound or simple words, and words with affixes in place of words that don't fit into the rhyme and meter of the original example. (Session length: 45 minutes or one standard class period)


Coordinating VA Standards of Learning: 2.7, 3.4.  If you are in a state other than VA, similar standards will be applicable for your state.

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The Messages in Media 

(Grades 4 & 5) Performing songwriter, Aspen Black, will come into your classroom to give first-hand insight on authorship, format (elements), audience, content (visible and embedded), and purpose of songs in today's world of media.  Aspen will perform examples from a variety of original songs, engaging students in discussion.  The auditory and visual formats will both be explored, linking songs with video. Lastly, students will be put into groups to create, and act in, an A/B roll "music video" clip to Aspen's original songs.  Aspen will record video footage in your classroom (with backdrops she provides).  After the session (within a week, or less) Aspen will process the video clips and send the final videos to you to share in the classroom and/or beyond.  (Session length: 1 hour or one standard class period)


Coordinating VA Standards of Learning: 4.3, 5.3.  If you are in a state other than VA, similar standards will be applicable for your state.


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Comprehending Poetry

(Grades 4 & 5) Accomplished performing poet and singer/songwriter, Aspen Black, will come into your classroom to perform, and analyze, a variety of original songs and poems.  Students will discuss: author's purpose, language choice, setting, characters, main idea, supporting details, events, conflict and solution, sensory words, inferences, conclusions, cause and effect, and predictions.  Students will identify words, phrases, settings, and events that they are unfamiliar with and be led through strategies to uncover the correct meanings. Aspen will lead students in a discussion about how each piece would change if key elements, such as character, setting, or plot was changed. Lastly, students will use the rhyme and meter of one of Aspen's original poems as a template to begin writing their own poem that demonstrates proper usage of three, or more, topics discussed in the body of the program.


Coordinating VA Standards of Learning: 4.5, 5.5.  If you are in a state other than VA, similar standards will be applicable for your state.


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Pre-Guitar:

(Pre-K, 1, 2)  Aspen Black provides a classroom set of  30 specially-marked, specially-tuned ukuleles, teaching the basics of guitar playing in one session.  Students play their first song in five minutes and continue to build on skills learned, making chords, changing chords, and singing along to their own playing.  This easy method is a great way to introduce children to the joy of playing guitar and reinforce a variety of music standards.


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Guitar for Students:

(Grades 3-8) Aspen Black provides up to 30 classroom guitars per session, teaching the basics of guitar.  These specially-marked instruments make beginning guitar easy to learn.  Students play their first song in five minutes then build on skills to make chords, change chords, and sing along to their playing. This is an excellent addition to any music program and reinforces a variety of practical and performance standards.


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Ukulele for Students:

​(Grades 3 - 8) Aspen Black provides up to 30 ukuleles per session, teaching students the basics of playing ukulele.  These specially marked instruments make learning to play the ukulele easy.  Students play their first song in five minutes, then build skills by making and changing chords and singing along to their own playing.  




Why is music and live performance important to learning?

  • Engagement!  Students cannot easily "tune-out" (no pun intended) the topic.
  • ​Understanding! Students who repeat words, sing along, discuss, or are involved in a topic are more likely to connect concept with real-life examples
  • Excitement!  Music and live performance "spices up" the information and keeps interest level high throughout.
  • Accomplishment!  Students, even those who think they are un-musical or un-talented, meet with success by participating in performances and/or creating songs or poems.
  • Improved Retention - Research has proven that facts and ideas are easier to remember in a rhyming song or poem format, and students who are engaged in a lesson, with examples, retain more.





























From Idea to Radio

Programs are very reasonably priced and include travel/lodging in most cases.  We provide our own PA, AV equipment, and props as part of each package, although it is sometimes better to combine our equipment with a school's existing equipment for the best possible student experience. Discounts are offered for multiple programs.

​Aspen Black is no stranger to the classroom. Before embarking on her career as a teaching artist, she worked in the Franklin County, VA public school system as an RtI (remediation) instructor for 3rd-5th grade and SIS (Student Intervention Specialist), gaining excellent references from principals, teachers, parents, and students.


Kerry Grombacher is a graduate of the University of Texas - Austin with concentrations in American Cultural Studies and Ethnomusicology.  He worked several years for the Texas government and substituted in Texas Public Schools before becoming a full time touring musician in the late 1990's.  



Songs and Stories of the American West 

(Aspen Black and Kerry Grombacher)


This musical program takes students on a cultural journey through history.  Focused on westward expansion, students listen to characters speak through original songs about forced migration, coerced migration, voluntary relocation, and the blending of cultures on the western frontier.  (Target: 4th- 8th grades, 1 hour, schoolwide assembly or classroom program)


This interactive program takes elementary-aged children on a  journey through western history from pioneer times to present.  Student clap, sing, role-play, and dance in this fun, action-packed program!  This program ties in with many school districts' Social Studies/History and Music curriculum.

(Target: K-5, 1 hour, schoolwide assembly or classroom program) 

Programs for Elementary and Middle Schools


The Singing Cowgirl

"You did a marvelous job of exciting and teaching the students at Manor Heights and Summit [Elementary Schools] yesterday! Bravo!  People enjoyed your poetry and music tonight! On behalf of ArtCore, I want to express appreciation for your gracing our 2018-19 season with your excellence!"  Carolyn Deuel, ARTCORE WY

TEACHING ARTIST & PERFORMER 

"Thanks so much for coming.  These kids rarely ever get stuff like this. They really opened up and learned a lot and, most importantly, they saw that they could accomplish something!"  A. Teer, Teacher, Roanoke Valley Juvenile Detention Center



NTV's recent story on Aspen Black & Kerry Grombacher, featuring footage from "The Singing Cowgirl" and an adult writing workshop at the Kearney Public Library in Kearney, NE

"From Idea to Radio" takes students on a creative journey into the world of songwriting and musical recording. Through interactive reading, students uncover the creative writing process, beginning with a snippet of inspiration.  From there, students follow the path of a songwriter's mind, generating ideas, honing in on a main idea, transferring thoughts and ideas into words, honing these words into rhyme an meter verses, choruses, and a bridge, and considering commerciality, disclosure of personal feelings, poetic license, and intended audience for the song.  Students explore the two major approaches to songwriting: chord/melody-driven or lyrics-driven, then listen to how a "raw" song is first "born" with guitar and vocal only.  As if that's not enough, students then learn how the song is "seasoned" and edited, before finally being recorded.  Students take an interactive part in the recording process, playing representative paper instruments as the different real instruments are added to the mix, with a few lucky volunteers playing REAL instruments to the final "radio ready" song!  This is a great program that ties in with both English/Reading and Music standards, and any special event featuring creativity or the arts!  (Target: separate programs for K-5 and 6-8, 1 hour, assembly or classroom)

"Mother of millions, daughter of one.  Walked from the willows to the rising sun.  Great humpback high, head swinging low, on the range of the buffalo." 

Range of the Buffalo - (c) 2011 Kerry Grombacher

"You are amazing!"  Kayla, PTO Rep., Ozona Public Schools, Ozona, TX


Additional Standards-Based Presentations

for VA Elementary School Classrooms & Residencies

(can be adapted to fit most state Common Core standards)


Aspen Black

"Your school assembly was great! Definitely Let me know when you're back in the area." Jacky Wright - Hot Springs Greater Learning Foundation, Thermopolis, WY

Contact us today to check available dates or get more information: