Alleghany County borders the Virginia line and boasts beauty as well as a rich musical heritage and current traditions. Alleghany County is also proud to be the home of notable stringbands and musicians from the early days of country music including: The Red Fox Chasers, Bertie Dickens (old time banjo player), Art Wooten (fiddler with Bill Monroe), Dave Sturgill (guitar builder and banjo player) and Del Reeves of the Grand Ole Opry.
Red Fox Chasers of Alleghany County, NC
For more great information about music in Alleghany County, please visit the Traditional Music of Alleghany County website
History of the JAM Program in Alleghany
Alleghany JAM is the the original JAM program founded in spring 2000 by Guidance Counselor and traditional musician Helen White. White’s vision was to enrich the lives of children through active involvement in the music of their community. A cache of instruments was acquired to allow students of limited means the opportunity to learn an instrument. Over the years, partnerships with Alleghany County Schools, the National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, Alleghany County Educational Foundation, Inc., Alleghany Fiddlers Convention, and the help and hard work of many friends continue to make Alleghany JAM and traditional mountain music a reality in the lives of local youth.
About the Program
Alleghany JAM serves an average of over 80 children per semester from all three elementary/junior high schools in Alleghany County, as well as home schooled children. Grades 3-8 are eligible with newer classes also available for high school students. Classes currently meet Mondays and Thursdays, 3:15-5:30 pm at Sparta Elementary School in Sparta, NC. Lessons with master traditional musicians include guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, bass, clogging and singing. There is also a traditional arts class where kids learn about additional Appalachian cultural arts. Students take classes twice per week in both an instrument and enrichment area. Class fees operate on a sliding scale based on school lunch status. Instruments are available on loan at no additional cost. Please contact the program director or see their website for more information.
Throughout the year, advancing JAM students have the opportunity to play at music venues and community events. All students perform a recital for family and friends at the end of each semester. Performances challenge the students to attain their highest musical skill level and gives them a taste for what it feels like to be a “real musician.” Each year, the students perform for their family members and the community in December and May.
Alleghany JAM also offers multiple enrichment activities per year such as field trips to festivals, music venues and dances, and many trips to perform at places like Ferrum College’s Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, the Appalachian State University Fiddlers Convention, The Carterfold, the Mountain Heritage Festival in Sparta, and the Alleghany Jubilee. Other immersion activities include visiting artist programs after school. These “immersion” experiences help deepen the students’ first hand experience and knowledge of their community’s musical roots and traditions. Through a partnership with the Alleghany Arts Council, Alleghany JAM also sponsors several programs per year that help expose hundreds of students at Alleghany County Schools to local and regional artists who represent the best in Southern Appalachian music.
Caroline Beverley – Singing, Mandolin
Harrol Blevins – Guitar, Singing
Landon Dowell – Clogging
Eliot Smith – Guitar, Mandolin
Chris Testerman – Banjo, Fiddle
Erika Testerman – Fiddle
Lynn Worth – Dulcimer, Bass
Samantha Wilhelmi – Program Director
Ashley Weaver – Program Administrator
Deborah Sherrill, Chair
Kate Irwin, Vice Chair
Chad Beasley, Superintendent of Alleghany County Schools
Meghan Mooneyhan, Secretary
Harrol Blevins, Teacher Representative
Samantha Wilhelmi, Program Director
PO Box 1326
Sparta, N.C. 28675
Alleghany JAM website
Online Lessons from Alleghany JAM Teachers
Alleghany JAM Photos
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JAM Session Virginia Style a 2007 article on Southwest Virginia Online
JAM Sessions fill music students with Southern pride an article by Leigh Ann Henion in the Christian Science Monitor
Making Old Time Music by David Schulman, Our State Magazine, October 2006. Posted with permission.