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The Student News Site of Fort Collins High School

Spilled Ink

The Student News Site of Fort Collins High School

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@fchsspilledink: The Lambkin cross country team raced at FCHS this morning against other local schools. Both the boys and girls placed third.

Government teacher shares his love of music

Room P101 is occupied by a bluegrass-loving, banjo-playing social studies teacher with a wall of instruments, and pictures showing famous musicians, including some bluegrass greats.

Government and civics teacher Chris Tholl is a consistent member of the Fort Collins bluegrass community. Loving bluegrass, Tholl has a wish to influence FCHS with more elements regarding the genre. 

“I wanted to bring that community vibe to the school and offer students who love music, want to try music, are intrigued by instruments, the opportunity,” Tholl said.

Tholl gained inspiration from another music based learning group called Little Kids Rock, an organization who

Picking a tune on his banjo, social studies teacher Chris Tholl sits in front of his display of various stringed instruments. Tholl allows students to check the instruments out and he provides tutoring to get them started. (Connor Clark)

se goal is to get instruments in front of kids to inspire music. He started applying for grants with his idea to promote bluegrass music to the newer generation. 

“I called it Bluegrass in the Class and I got like 5 to 6 thousand dollars,” Tholl said. 

With this money, Tholl bought a few instruments and hung them on his wall. He bought Instruments like the guitar, bass, resonator, and mandolin for Bluegrass in the Class.

“Students are welcome to drop in and pick up an instrument off the wall, see if they like the sound of it, and if they do then I’ll teach them something to practice,” Tholl said.

Being able to teach music comes with experience. At one point Tholl had trouble even teaching himself.

“I tried to self-teach, but I was living in the mountains so I wasn’t too successful, so I put it down and when I moved to the city I found a banjo teacher who was really good,” Tholl said. 

Since then, he’s taken one lesson a month for the past 2 years. At this point, he has had around 10 years of solid playing. 

As a banjo player, Tholl is a part of one of the instrument’s biggest genres. Bluegrass is often defined by a few key elements and characteristics. By combining styles and traditions like old-time mountain music, jazz, country, blues, and gospel, it creates a new unique sound. 

Well, not so new… From the 1940s and ‘50s, “Bluegrass music originated in the Appalachians in Kentucky and in Tennessee and then moved West with the frontiersmen,” Tholl explained.  When it moved to Colorado, it gained more of a “Hippie Edge.” 

The bluegrass community is personal and tight knit. It hit hard for Tholl when it fell apart during the Covid-19 pandemic.Only recently it has started coming back together to play shows and make more music.

For anyone interested in music at FCHS and excited to learn a new skill, Tholl has quite a few options.

He said, “The goal is just to teach kids and inspire interest in a different style of music.”

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About the Contributors
Lucien Petri
Lucien Petri, Staff Writer
Lucien Petri is a sophomore at Fort Collins High School, and a staff writer for Spilled Ink. Lucien loves everything to do with philosophy, poetry, photography, and music. Along with Spilled Ink, Lucien participates in the FCHS Speech and Debate team as a competitor in Public Forum. He is passionate about politics and theories about the universe, and believes that an important part of life is to forgive, forget, and learn. In the future Lucien wants to pursue a career in philosophical writing and teaching. Favorite Musician (Currently): Arctic Monkeys, The Garden, Frank Ocean Favorite Album (Currently): Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division Favorite Instrument: Drums Favorite Book: The Fall by Albert Camus Favorite Movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, La Haine Favorite Philosopher: Friedrich Nietzche, Mozi, Emil Cioran  
Connor Clark
Connor Clark, Staff Writer and Photographer
Connor Clark is a junior at Fort Collins High School and is a staff writer and photographer for Spilled Ink. He loves to work out, explore nature, and fly drones. He is often finding something to do and somewhere to go; always trying new ways to record the beautiful blue and green earth. In the future, he plans to join the police force as either a drone operator or a K9 handler.

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