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Sue Massek

Sue Massek

Arts Education Artist
  • Folk Arts; Music


    With five decades of performing experience, Sue Massek has performed as a solo artist and with The Reel World String Band throughout the USA, Canada, Italy, and Central America. She has three albums as a solo artist and seven albums with her band. Sue has worked in schools for over 30 years including residencies as an adjudicated artist for the Kentucky Arts Council’s Teaching Artist Directory and VSA Kentucky. She was Kentucky’s 1st community scholar and is now a Master Artist for the Kentucky Arts Council’s Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Master/Apprentice grant program.  She apprenticed under Kentucky artists including Lily May Ledford, Clyde Davenport and Blanche Coldiron. Sue has worked as a cultural organizer for Kentucky Foundation for Women, Appalachian Women’s Alliance and for the Kentucky Arts Council as a Circuit Rider.

    Born in Kansas, Sue has called Kentucky home for nearly 40 years and is devoted to Appalachia and the people who live there.

    Potential Residency Project

    Students will participate in folk music classes that explore Kentucky’s rich historical and cultural heritage. Through a series of traditional and original songs students will be guided through time and place, from before settlers arrived on Native American lands, through colonial American period of American history, Appalachian history, and finally into Kentucky’s current culture. Students will learn the history and origin of the traditional Kentucky instruments of fiddle, banjo, dulcimer, guitar and mandolin as I accompany the songs they learn. They will associate the music learned and performed with the Native American, African-American, Celtic and Appalachian cultures and gain an awareness of the purposes for which music is created.

    Students will actively create, perform and respond to the music and concepts presented and create their own songs using an accessible process of beginning songwriting. Students will create scenes using a song or group of songs they learned during the residency and perform them for the larger student body in an assembly or culminating event.

    Students will gain a better understanding of the elements of music as they sing, respond and create their own performances. They will be introduced to several different styles of music throughout the residency including Native American chants, Celtic ballads, Appalachian dance tunes, blues, a’capella music, call and response, and African-American spirituals.

    This program, emphasizing Kentucky’s diverse ethnic influences, can also be integrated into social studies classes studying Kentucky history and cultural heritage, geography.

    At the end of each class students will reflect on what they have learned and fill out “exit cards” answering a specific question related to the day’s lesson.

    Teachers are asked to be fully participatory during these classes. My study guide will prepare teachers for the activities and concepts that will be presented, give them ownership of the final performances, and provide a perspective from the student’s point of view. At the end of the residency teachers will be provided with an accompanying CD of all the songs and activities presented, which will allow them effectively lead follow up activities.

    As a part of the preparatory work for the songwriting class, students interview their parents and/or community members about their cultural heritage and folk traditions, engaging community members and family in the residency. They will be invited to attend the culminating assembly during school time, or if the school prefers, a community event after school hours can be arranged, (this requires additional funds to pay the artist).

    This residency project is designed to awaken the creative nature inherent in each student and arouse their curiosity and desire to learn. These classes instill in them a pride in their home place and self-esteem about their own abilities to create and celebrate the arts. All of this while learning lessons about music and Kentucky and American history they won’t soon forget.

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