The musical history of the Northern Catskill area is being gathered and preserved by students in the Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School senior chorus.

The students are spending the school year researching local folk music by interviewing older members of their families and of the community to compile a collection of folk songs and musical memories.

Principal Jeffrey Bennett and music teacher Elizabeth DiSavino are leading the project, Laura Carson, district secretary, said Friday.

"Folk music is a great depository of cultural history," Bennett said in a media release. "Folk songs preserve the way people used to think, talk, and live. They are a living history of what once was.

"Knowing the music of their home and the stories that go with it is the birthright of our students," Bennett continued.

The musical research project is also expected to enhance students' study of vocal music. As part of the project, they will record the regional folk songs.

"No such collection has ever been done in the Northern Catskills until now," Bennett said.

The chorus students will be using and practicing research and interview techniques, musical ear training skills, knowledge of song forms and audio recording techniques.

Bennett said the project has the potential to benefit the students, the school and local community and the greater historical and musical area.

"When we are done, a copy of the interview information and recordings will be given to the school library, the Cherry Valley Museum, local historical associations, the New York Folklife Society, the New York Historical Society and the Folklife Archives of the Library of Congress," Bennett said.

The program has the potential for extensions of the project including transcribing the songs into written musical form and the stories into article form.

The entire project may be compiled into book form in the spirit of the Foxfire series, Bennett said.

According to www.foxfire.org, "The Foxfire Book and its 11 companion volumes stand memorial to the people and the vanishing culture of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, brought to life for readers through the words of those who were born, lived their lives, and passed away there "" words collected by high school students who wanted to be a part of their community and preserve their heritage."

The CV-S senior chorus also has plans to publish and perform some of the songs they gather.

For more information about community heritage studies, visit The American Folklife Center website at www.loc.gov/folklife/poster.

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