Returning for his third visit to Springer School and Center, Jim McCutcheon spent seven days working with students through the Norita Aplin Musician in Residence program.
Known as "The Guitar Man," McCutcheon plays a variety of fretted instruments, including guitar, banjo, ukulele, lute and the Bolivian charango. He performs publicly, composes original music, produces CDs, hosts a weekly program on Dayton Public Radio and offers school programs for both students and teachers.
During his stay at Springer, McCutcheon spoke with every class, explaining and demonstrating the many instruments he brought with him. Students had an opportunity to touch or even play many of the instruments, and they learned the structural components that all the instruments share.
McCutcheon then worked more closely with a group of 21 Intermediate students, teaching them songs on the ukulele that they performed on the final day of the program. The students played both traditional folk tunes, and a song McCutcheon wrote specifically for Springer. "To play the ukulele before an audience in only a week gives the students experience at training themselves to do complicated things quickly. Not only have they negotiated the songs on the ukulele, but they have sung along at the same time."
McCutcheon uses the ukulele for student programs because it is easier to manage than a guitar. "It's simpler because it has only four strings," he says. "And I tune the strings a bit low so that they are looser and easier to play."
"Springer is a marvelous place," says McCutcheon. "The support from the staff is stellar, and the kids are great! I feel a real connection with Springer."
The Musician in Residence program is made possible through a fund established in honor of Dr. Norita Aplin, recognizing her 14 years of leadership at Springer.