Jan. 27, 2015. Summer fiddlers conventions, festivals and campfires are coming down the pike, and dozens of musicians will be gearing up for picking season with weekly music lessons at the Jones House starting on Feb. 5. The Town of Boone’s Cultural Resources Department is currently accepting new enrollment in the popular Boone JAMS music lessons program, which is open to kids from age six and up, including adults.
“The winter is a great time to learn some new tunes and songs, or just get started on an instrument from scratch,” said Cultural Resources Coordinator Mark Freed.
“Cold winter nights and rainy spring days are great times to sit inside and pick!”
Boone JAMS is a newer name for an older program that began as Watauga Junior Appalachian Musicians, nearly ten years ago, under Freed’s direction. The program is still a Junior Appalachian Musicians affiliate, but now includes adult participants as well.
The program is rooted in passing on traditional stringed instrument playing styles, tunes and songs. The instructors, including Cecil Gurganus, Deborah Jean Sheets, Travor McKenzie and Brandon Holder, include two Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Traditional Artists, and they are all versed in the traditional old-time and bluegrass music of the region.
“One of the main reasons the program has been successful are the wonderful instructors,” Freed adds. “They are really committed to passing on traditions, but I remind people that the fundamentals of playing these instruments are pretty much the same for any style the students may want to play.
Classes in the upcoming session will include beginning through advanced fiddle, beginning banjo, beginning through intermediate mandolin, beginning through advanced ukulele and beginning through intermediate guitar. Classes last 45 minutes and begin at either 4:30, 5:30 or 6:30 p.m., depending on the instrument and playing level. For those who do not have an instrument, they are available for rent.
“The classes are taught in groups and some have all kids, all adults or mixed,” Freed said. “It really is a great opportunity for anyone to get involved with stringed instruments in a friendly and fun environment.”
The upcoming session begins on Feb. 5 and meets every Thursday through May 21, except April 2. The 15-week session costs $75 for kids under 18 and $125 for adults. Instruments can be rented for $25 for the entire session.
To enroll, parents or students should contact Mark Freed at [email protected] or call 828-268-6280 with the name of the student, age, instrument of interest, any prior playing experience and whether or not a rental is needed.
Boone JAMS is produced by the Town of Boone’s Cultural Resources Department and the Downtown Boone Development Association with support from the North Carolina Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts.
For more information, please visit www.JonesHouse.org or call 828-268-6280.