Roanoke City students win Les Paul Legacy Class Project Award

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Roanoke City Public School has made sure music and the arts are available to all students, and its efforts are paying off.

A group of students recently won an award named after music legend Les Paul.

For several weeks these fifth graders worked to create instruments, and even a song about the legendary music pioneer.

It started with lessons the group of students learned from a book on Les Paul on how he became so successful.

“One of the main reasons was he never gave up and he kept trying,” said 5th grader Kyra Bell.

Reading the book is only one part of the Les Paul Legacy Class Project.

The other was to create their own instruments from broken ones.

“They just gathered them all up and sat down in the middle of the room and started talking about what they could do and came up with ideas as a group,” said their music teacher Rhonda Painter.

They made a vendhar. “It's made of a violin body, a ukulele neck, and a talking drum head,” said 5th grader Aiden Neil.

And a vium. “This is of course the violin head that we used from the broken instruments,” explains Bell.

After they created song their song about Les Paul, the students submitted their work.

“Out of 26 schools nationwide, we won!” exclaimed Neil.

“It was very exciting like I almost cried like it was so exciting to know that we had won,” said Bell.

Fine Arts Supervisor Cari Gates says projects like this show how music can teach children more than you may think.

“The students had to actually read the book, they had to have class discussions on facts about Les Paul and then they had to do a lot of creative thinking and take different parts of instruments and put them together,” said Gates.

The students won 30 Les Paul Books, plus a Les Paul electric guitar and amplifier.