Junior Appalachian Musician Program to begin at TFAC

Published 7:29 pm Friday, February 7, 2014

Tryon Fine Arts Center has formed an advisory board composed of 12 volunteers representing musicians, educators, parents, and community leaders in Polk and Spartanburg County to develop a Junior Appalachian Musician (JAM) program for students in the foothills.

The program will encourage connection between a new generation and the traditional musical heritage of our local area.  Polk and neighboring counties in North and South Carolina are home to many traditional singers, dancers, and musicians who play banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass and hammered dulcimer.  The JAM program will draw on this source of master musicians to teach interested youth how to strum or pick or bow traditional instruments. The program will also share additional cultural enrichment through traditional dancing, singing or storytelling.

Beginning in mid-February, student interest surveys will be distributed and collected through local schools, libraries, and the TFAC website.  Based on results of this survey, the Advisory Board will choose instruments for two hours of low-cost group instruction after school at Tryon Fine Arts Center for students in the fourth-sixth grades for two 10-week semesters throughout the 2014-2015 school year.

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“In our first year, we plan to involve approximately 20 students in JAM, but we believe that it has the potential to grow much bigger,” said Marianne Carruth, TFAC arts in education director.  “Between working with the outstanding group of volunteers on the Advisory Board and the JAM, Inc. organization, I am confident that we are laying strong groundwork for an impactful traditional music program.”

TFAC’s JAM program, scheduled to begin in September 2014, will be affiliated with JAM, Inc., an umbrella organization founded in Allegheny County 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. JAM, currently in its 14th year, is affiliated with 24 communities in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, helping provide opportunities for children to participate in the old-time and bluegrass music and dance traditions of the Southern Appalachians.

To find out more about the JAM, Inc. history and mission, visit www.regionaljam.org. For participation as a sponsor or a student in the new Junior Appalachian Musicians program at Tryon Fine Arts Center, contact 828-859-8322 to reach TFAC Education Director, or email marianne@tryonarts.org.


– article submitted
by Marianne Carruth