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. Through many partnerships over the years, Alleghany JAM has involved more than 1,200 children alone in traditional music and dance education.
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 third through eighth are eligible with newer classes also available for high school students. Classes meet at the Alleghany JAM house in Sparta, NC. Lessons with master traditional musicians include fiddle, clawhammer banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, singing, dance, band, dulcimer, and ukelele. There is also a traditional arts class where kids learn about additional Appalachian cultural arts. Students take regular instrument classes twice per week on Mondays and Wednesdays with enrichment focused classes on Tuesdays. 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 Alleghany County Fiddlers Convention, Appalachian State University Fiddlers Convention, The Carterfold, the Mountain Heritage Festival in Sparta, and the Alleghany Jubilee. Other enrichment activities include visiting artist programs after school. These 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.
Emily Spencer – Banjo, Stringband
Kyle Dean Smith – Guitar, Mandolin, Stringband
Lucas Pasley – Fiddle
Patricia Gardnder – Singing
Kimberly Frazier – Ukelele
Kaylee Wagoner – Bass
Maggie Oakes-Chitwood, Program Director
PO Box 1326
Sparta, N.C. 28675
Online Lessons from Alleghany JAM Teachers
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