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Free summer classes through Louisville Folk School run through next week

Four people sit on a wooden deck. They are sat in a circle with African drums sitting in front of them. They are mid-song hands raised above the drums.
Breya Jones
The Louisville Folk School's summer program students are learning to play various instruments including African drums.

Students attending the Louisville Folk School’s free summer classes have spent the past few weeks learning different music and art practices. Classes are open for new students through next Friday.

Walking through the doors of Douglass Community Center, the sound of drumming immediately becomes clear. The music leads to a porch surrounded by bamboo. It feels like a space of its own in the midst of Cherokee Park.

It’s where Louisville Folk School instructor Angela Scharfenberger teaches an African drums class.

“For me, getting to teach this music is a total honor,” Scharfenberger said. “It teaches a love and respect for other kinds of music that come from people from other places and other cultures.”

Growing an understanding and appreciation of music and art from various cultures are part of the goal of the summer program.

“Music education feeds all these other parts of ourselves. We want to learn knowledge, we get to learn skills in school, but it also feeds our creativity and our connectivity and our expressiveness,” Scharfenberger said.

She said the Louisville Folk School aspires to expand programming for youth. The summer class series is the start of that.

It’s funded through a grant from the Louisville Metro Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods. The classes are free and dinner is included for students.

“We realized that one of the obstacles to that was making it accessible to everyone without having to charge,” Scharfenberger said.

Siblings Alexi, Conner and Chance Fazio are regular students of Scharfenberger.

Fourteen-year-old Alexi said that while he enjoys other school subjects like math and history, it’s important to recognize the benefits of humanities education.

“If you want to have an environment where kids can actually thrive, feel emotions, and gain connections with people and their instruments and their arts, all of those things, you need to have more time in those classes,” Alexi said.

Alexi and his 11-year-old twin siblings have been playing music for a long time. Alexi plays a variety of percussion instruments. Conner has focused mainly on guitar. And Chance loves piano.

“At some point, I ended up starting to feel a loss for the instrument, and I started to feel very negative, like negative around the instrument,” Chance said.

The classes have helped Chance enjoy playing music again.

His brothers agree that doing Folk School classes has helped things not get stagnant.

“I used to play acoustic guitar, which I liked for a couple of years, but then I felt like he was getting a bit boring and I just kept on learning the same thing,” Conner said.

When Conner wanted to return to playing music, he was more interested in learning folk music. And that’s exactly what he’s been doing.

Upcoming classes in the last week of the summer program include African drums, guitar and record sampling workshops.

Classes are Monday through Friday 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Students can register online or, Scharfenberger said, just arrive at the Douglass Community Center ready to learn.

Support for this story was provided in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund.

News Youth Reporting
Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.