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Sign Up to Learn a New Instrument, Have Fun at Jones House Boone JAMS Classes This Fall

Fiddle Students
Fiddle students at the Jones House during Boone JAMS lessons.

Boone JAMS! Every Thursday, musicians from around the community gather at the Jones House for an old-time jam session, and everyone has a chance to get involved. While the evening jam session features some of the region’s best seasoned musicians, anyone with an inkling to learn can get involved with the music lessons program, which resumes on August 27.

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 adults and kids from age 6 and up.

“The Boone JAMS program at the Jones House is a great way to either start learning a new instrument or build up your chops on one that you have started,” said program coordinator Mark Freed. “The classes are taught in small groups, which is a fun and welcoming way to learn.”

Boone JAMS is a newer name for an older program that began as Watauga Junior Appalachian Musicians 10 years ago under Freed’s direction. The program is still a Junior Appalachian Musicians affiliate, but also welcomes adult participants.

Students can enroll in classes that teach fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar and ukulele for the upcoming session, which meets each Thursday for 15 weeks, not including Thanksgiving.

Instructor Trevor McKenzie
Instructor Trevor McKenzie leads a Boone JAMS class.

“We have a recital on the last week, and it is always exciting to hear the changes from week one,” Freed said.

The program is rooted in passing on traditional  playing styles, tunes and songs, and the instructors are all accomplished old-time and folk musicians. Instructors for the fall session will include Cecil Gurganus, Deborah Jean Sheets, Trevor McKenzie and Brandon Holder. Gurganus and Sheets are members of the Blue Ridge National Hertiage Area Traditional Artist Directory. McKenzie grew up in Rural Retreat, Virginia and Holder is from northern Alabama. Both are talented multi-instrumentalists.

“One of the main reasons the program has been successful are the wonderful instructors,” Freed said. “They are really committed to passing on traditions, and they have lots of patience.”

Classes in the upcoming session will be offered to beginning through intermediate levels and offered to kids ages 7 and up through adults.  Instruments are available for rent for those who do not have their own to use.

There will also be a general music class offered for 6-year-old students that will not focus on an individual instrument, instead working on singing, rhythm and experiences with several instruments.

 Classes last 45 minutes and begin at either 4:30, 5:30, or 6:30 p.m., depending on the instrument and playing level.

“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 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 mark.freed@townofboone.net 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, visit www.joneshouse.org.