College grassers take music to the schools for the Hall of Fame

Students in bluegrass programs from two different states traveled to Kentucky this month to participate in the Bluegrass in the Schools initiative for the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum.

East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN and Glenville State College in Glenville, WV, both of whom offer a four year degree in bluegrass music, sent a student band to perform in Owensboro, KY. Each year the Bluegrass Hall offers a free outreach to area elementary schools to let the youngsters learn about Kentucky’s native music form, and as an example of what can be done for bluegrass associations in other parts of the US.

This year the Glenville students visited schools during the week of January 6, with the ETSU pickers coming in the following week. Along with Chris Joslin, Executive Director of the Hall, and Randy Lanham, the Hall of Fame’s Education Director, they performed at assemblies for Daviess County Public Schools, Owensboro Public Schools, and Owensboro Catholic schools. Along with some rip roaring’ bluegrass, they explained to the children about how the music evolved, and how the various instruments sound.

Dan Boner, director of the Bluegrass, Old-Time Celtic and Country Music Studies program at ETSU, says that he was happy to solicit students from the program to assist in this effort.

“The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum reflects all that we love about bluegrass music. There is great respect for all of those who have shaped our music through history, and a strong sense of community and sharing through education. We are so proud to join the Hall of Fame by taking bluegrass into Kentucky’s schools.”

The Hall does these Bluegrass in the School assemblies in January as a lead in to their Saturday Lesson Program, which starts in February. Students in the schools they visit are invited to enroll, and given explanatory literature for the program which runs through June. Lessons are offered for fiddle, guitar, banjo, and mandolin at a very low rate, and can include the loan of an instrument at no charge for beginners.

Registration fees for the Saturday Lesson Program are only $90, and $50 for additional family members. Parents are encouraged to take with their children, and lessons are offered for age six and up.

Full details can be found online.

Megan Darby, who directs the bluegrass program at Glenville, also feels that having their students involved in Owensboro is a perfect fit for them.

“It’s an incredible honor to collaborate and work alongside Chris Joslin, Randy Lanham, and everyone at the Hall of Fame. What the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum is doing aligns perfecting with the Glenville State College Bluegrass Program’s mission.”

Anyone interested in trying a Bluegrass in the Schools program in their area is invited to contact the Hall of Fame online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.