St. Joseph’s Indian School Enjoys Unique Musical Residency
By: Danielle Kucera, St. Joseph’s Indian School
(Chamberlain, S.D.) – From October 19 to 23, St. Joseph’s Indian School welcomed visiting artist Donna Gunn to campus as part of the South Dakota Arts Council Artist in Residency Program. Gunn is a talented pianist, singer and music educator from Lincoln, Neb.
Each artist who visits shares their art and talent, and provides a weeklong curriculum with the students. Gunn’s residency, “Music on the Trail,” is a multi-disciplinary program that focuses on American folk music and the Oregon Trail experience from the mid-19th century. “During the residency we learn about and make musical and cultural connections between ethnic groups that were affected by this piece of history. I then expose kids to classical genre piano music through pieces that were inspired by the folk songs we experience throughout the week,” said Gunn.
Gunn thoroughly enjoys her time with the students and finds joy in sharing her gifts. “Being part of the residency program is extremely meaningful to me and a passion that I have had for many years. For most of the kids I work with, the concept of partnering fun folk music, which most kids have not yet heard, with classical genre piano music is a completely new experience. To facilitate that experience is a gift and joy,” said Gunn.
During her stay, Gunn provided in person-instruction as well as a Zoom learning experience for the students so that everyone could participate. “The staff have been amazing in their support and engagement. Their willingness to continue the residency and adjust to a Zoom venue is a testament to their dedication and commitment to the kids. It was a pleasure to make music with the St. Joseph’s Indian School community. I hope to return in the future,” said Gunn.
The visit was made possible in part through the South Dakota Arts Council Artists in Schools & Communities (AISC). AISC is a residency program for K-12 schools and community organizations, with matching funds from the South Dakota Arts Council.
More Than 220 Native American students in first through twelfth grade find hope and opportunity through our educational, counseling, and residential programs. Strengthened by spirituality and culture, St. Joseph’s Indian School transforms lives—mind, body, heart and spirit—every day. Visit us at www.sjiskids.org and www.stjo.org.