Frank Hamilton School launches scholarship honoring former studentSarah Cumming. Photo provided to Decaturish.
Decatur, GA — The Frank Hamilton School, a music school at Legacy Park in Decatur, has launched a scholarship that honors a former student. The school is also accepting donations for the Sarah Cumming Scholarship Fund.
Sarah Cumming was a dedicated student of the Frank Hamilton School. She was interested in songwriting, singing, the guitar, and the harmonica. She died on Dec. 6 of a brain tumor and is being memorialized with a scholarship that will cover the full tuition for a student at the school, according to a press release.
Donations to the scholarship will pay for up to one year of classes for a student of any age who cannot easily afford the tuition.
Here is the full press release:
Sarah Cumming was a dedicated student of songwriting, singing, guitar and harmonica at the Frank Hamilton School, a music school in Decatur built around the vision of legendary folk music figure Frank Hamilton.
Sarah, who died on December 6 of a brain tumor, is being memorialized with a scholarship that will cover the full yearly tuition for a student at the Frank Hamilton School. The school, in the City of Decatur’s Legacy Park, offers classes in a variety of folk and jazz musical traditions over six eight-week terms, each class costing $150.
Donations to the Sarah Cumming Scholarship will pay for up to a year of classes for a student of any age who can’t easily afford it. A number of these scholarships could be available in the first year. Sarah’s parents, Doug and Libby Cumming, have committed to having at least one scholarship available each year after that.
Sarah Cumming, who was 33 when she died, discovered the Frank Hamilton School after moving to Decatur for treatment at Emory University. Because of seizures that began in 2015, when a brain tumor was discovered, she gave up driving and employment. But she refused to have cancer identify her life. (She also had bone cancer at age 14 and leukemia two years later, both of which were successfully controlled). She could walk to the Frank Hamilton School and was happy to join its community of students and teachers. Walking, writing songs, singing them, and being a special friend were her hallmarks.
The school, a tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) organization, has grown since its modest start in 2015 with lessons in a church. With the help of a few Atlanta business people, Frank Hamilton modeled the school on Chicago’s well-established Old Town School of Folk Music, of which Hamilton was the first teacher in 1957. Today, the Old Town School has thousands of students and can claim relationships with some of the biggest names in folk music. In the 1950s, Hamilton followed the model of Woody Guthrie, traveling, seeking out folk music and creating it with such Folk Revival figures as Guy Carawan, Jack Elliott and Pete Seeger.
Hamilton, who at 89 continues to be quietly at the center of the school as both teacher and student, has described his philosophy this way: “Music is not an exclusive club. Anyone can learn at any time regardless if they consider themselves talented or not.” The school adheres to a folk tradition of music learned in community, not as theory or rote technique.
To make a tax-deductible donation to the Sarah Cumming Scholarship fund, see the donation page of the school’s website, or mail a check to the Frank Hamilton School, PO Box 3645, Decatur, GA 30031, indicating it is for the Sarah Cumming Scholarship fund.
Want Decaturish delivered to your inbox every day? Sign up for our free newsletter by clicking here.
If you appreciate our work on this story, please become a paying supporter. For as little as $6 a month, you can help us keep you in the loop about your community.