that children who are actively engaged in traditional mountain music are more connected and better prepared to strengthen their communities for future generations.
a world in which all children have the opportunity to experience community through the joy of participating in traditional mountain music together.
is to provide communities with the support and tools they need to teach children to play and dance to traditional old time and bluegrass music.
What’s Happening in the JAM World
Keep Old Time Music Alive!
by Terry Carstensen, banjo instructor, FloydJAMS
What better way to keep Old Time music alive than to teach it to our children? In Floyd, Virginia, young people gather once per week after school to learn to play the fiddle, guitar or banjo. The FloydJAMS program is one of 40 JAM programs in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee that teach traditional old time and bluegrass music to children.
Some students have listened to family members play the traditional tunes, while some have had no music in their homes, but want to learn to play an instrument. Either way, all children, ages nine through twelve are welcome at FloydJAMS. The JAM instructors strive to give each child individual attention to help that student gain the confidence to play a new instrument. Every week’s session is augmented by a class in dance, a performance by a local band, or an interview with a well-known musician like Rhoda Kemp, Mac Traynham (who is also a JAM instructor) and Buddy Pendleton, each of whom describes their own personal musical journey.
On the first day of the semester, many children are wide-eyed, nervous and unsure of themselves. However, during the ten weeks they soon make new friends, gain confidence in their ability to learn new songs, and play those songs with others in a group. At the end of ten weeks, these same nervous students are standing on stage proudly playing their instruments in a standing-room only performance for friends and family. Many young musicians return year after year, and some have formed family bands, bands with friends, and competed in music festivals and fiddlers’ conventions.
Parents of JAM students have expressed their appreciation that there is an organization that passes down the traditional music of their region and gives their children a sense of place and personal history. One parent commented, “playing music is something that can enrich one’s life at any age and can be continued throughout one’s lifetime.” Another mother said that her daughter had taken private lessons in the past, but, “learning with other children was more fun and better for my daughter’s skill building and timing.” She added that, ”playing alone, you can easily reinforce your mistakes since ‘practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent.”
When I asked the students why they enjoy JAM, many enthusiastically said, “Because it’s fun to play tunes with friends!” Others commented, “I get to stomp my feet,” and, “When I become a famous basketball player I’ll keep playing my guitar,” and, “it’s like learning history the fun way!” Since the inception of JAM in 2000, thousands of children have learned the traditional music of the Southern Appalachians.
Floyd JAMs will be offering a Summer Week 2016, June 27 – July 1, 1-5 p.m. daily at the June Bug Center in Floyd, VA. Renowned fiddler Erynn Marshall will be leading the students in old-time music jamming fun, for fiddle, banjo, and guitar students ages 8-18. For more information, please contact Stacy Hairfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or (540) 745-6550. The June Bug Center and FloydJAMS Program
Attention JAM Kids and Parents!
If you haven’t registered yet through your JAM program, feel free to register online for the May 21 JAM Kids Regional Day Camp to be held at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, VA. We will be announcing the workshop instructor lineup soon! Registration deadline is no later than May 16. See more info at online registration, on the flyer, or by calling the JAM office at 276-773-0573. This event is FREE to all participants and their families, and will feature live performances by JAM kids that evening for the public on the big amphitheater stage.
Don’t miss this great chance to learn from master musicians and meet and jam with other JAMmers!
Mark your calendars for May 21! JAM is offering a regional day camp for kids. JAM kids can sign up or workshops in fiddle, clawhammer banjo, guitar, string band, dance and singing/songwriting. Family members and other non-JAM kids are also welcome to attend; there will be lots of activities including hiking and an instrument petting zoo. The evening will culminate in performances from participating programs. Students, talk to your program director or teacher about signing up. For other questions or information, call the JAM office.