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Cultivating the Arts in Barnardsville
Cultivating the Arts in Barnardsville
Posted on 12/15/2017
Barnardsville Chorus Club members sing for their peers prior to their annual holiday concert.By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Department

Most people describe themselves as music lovers, but learning music’s inner workings is a different kind of love. From the powerful Blackhawks marching band, to the talented choruses and musical theatre performances, the high school students of the North Buncombe District are known for their talents. But learning to perform at that level — and loving the arts enough to embrace discipline — starts many, many years earlier.

At Barnardsville Elementary, a small Chorus Club of third and fourth graders walked onto the gymnasium stage in front of their peers and teachers. Led by their music teacher, Ms. Melanye Crayton, the students shared a sneak peak of the songs they would perform that same December evening. It would be the first public performance since the club started meeting after school on Thursdays in mid-September. The young singers were clearly having a good time, but were also a little nervous to have so many eyes watching them. But everyone was relaxed when it came time to sing Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, and the students filling the gymnasium sang along.

"Every time these kids come to my classroom, they have access to instruments and they learn how to play them!" -Melanye Crayton, Music Teacher“Music teaches so many things and uses both sides of the brain,” explained Ms. Crayton, who is in her eleventh year of teaching after studying Music Education at Liberty University. “It gives our students a chance to excel in a different area and gain life skills. In a music class, we have math; we have reading; there’s science involved. They learn to get on stage and perform in front of people — that’s the biggest fear for some people — and they learn the life skill of working in a group toward an end goal.”

Now in her second year with Buncombe County Schools, Ms. Crayton works with students at both Barnardsville Elementary and Oakley Elementary. She is excited for the club’s spring performances, one of which involves learning a song alongside all of the North Buncombe District choirs. Four of her fourth graders at Barnardsville will also participate in the audition-based All-County Chorus concert.

Nicholas, a student in his second year with the club, hopes people at the evening’s concert will see “how much hard work we put into making this right and sound good.”

For student Riley, the club gives her a chance to sing with a group of people. She liked singing by herself or with her sister, so when she learned about the after-school club, she was quick to sign up. “I just like singing,” she said.

Barnardsville students gather for a mid-day concert.Samantha’s first ever opportunity to sing with a chorus was at Barnardsville. “It gives me a reason to express myself with my voice,” she said, now in her second year with the Chorus Club.

Surrounded by illustrations of musical notes and symbols taped to her classroom wall, Ms. Crayton leaned back in her chair and stressed the importance of music in a balanced Elementary curriculum. She explained that public schools give all students a chance to experience the arts.

“Private lessons are expensive and not everyone has access to instruments at home,” she explained, “But every time these kids come to my classroom, they have access to instruments and they learn how to play them!”

This week at Barnardsville, Melanye’s students are learning to play the recorder. Keep watching, because in only a handful of years, they’ll be performing with peers at North Windy Ridge Intermediate, North Buncombe Middle, and one day, North Buncombe High.

“The reason I do what I do is these students,” Ms. Crayton said, motioning to the Chorus Club students as they smiled back at her. “They love it and they work really hard. They put a lot of work into this.”

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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