Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

November 1, 2013

Lessons from the pros

Peru H. S. choir students learn from hit songwriter and award-winning artist

(Continued)

It was a haunting song about a ghost who was still waiting for her husband to return home from the Civil War more than 150 years after he left with the Confederate Army.

Peru Choir Director Jason Gornto said his students will talk about this experience all year. It’s a really unique opportunity for them learn from artists of such a high caliber, he said.

Barker comes as part of the Honeywell Center Education Outreach program. It’s funded by sponsors of the performing arts center in Wabash.

Gornto said Peru High School would never be able to afford this otherwise.

And Barker doesn’t speak to many schools.

“They don’t teach kids around the country,” Gornto said. “This is it. This is something special for this area.”

Barker’s wife, Theresa, said she and her husband started speaking to students in and around Wabash after performing at the Honeywell Center more than a decade ago. Someone there told her that these students needed inspiration. They needed to know there was more beyond the Wabash-area and more opportunities for them beyond farming, she said.

Aaron Barker delivered that same message to students Thursday.

“That’s why we’re here, so you have a friend in the music business,” he said. “Now, we’ll stay in touch all year. We’d love to help you in any way we can.”

The Barkers invited the teens to send them song lyrics for feedback and guidance.

Gornto said this saves his students 15 or 20 years of wondering how to break into songwriting. They now have someone who can help them along.

That’s a big deal, he said.

But the Barkers don’t mind.

“We have a blast doing it,” she said.

Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, can be reached at 765-454-8585 or at lindsey.ziliak@kokomotribune.com.

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