Handmade Music School and the Mobile Creative Lab in Floyd, through its Handmade Music School and the Mobile Creative Lab, creates accessible, safe spaces throughout Floyd County after school for teens to explore the creative process through music, storytelling and filmmaking.
With approximately 1,200 teens dispersed across Floyd County’s mostly rural 382 square miles, the need for safe, engaging, and accessible places for young people to “hang out, mess around, and geek out” with peers immediately after school and before parent supervision is available is well-known in the county. The community is also saddled by several troubling trends: the opioid and meth epidemic hits the county hard; regional employers report recent graduates lack the full portfolio of skills to participate in the modern workforce; and, in spite of the county being one of the fastest-growing in western Virginia, a lack of jobs creates the flight of young minds to other regions after graduation, draining the county of creative talent.
The Handmade Music School, in partnership The Floyd Country Store, provides learning opportunities in the musical traditions of Southwest Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since the 1980’s, The Floyd Country Store has been a community gathering place built on the celebration of traditional Southern Appalachian music and dancing. The Handmade Music School provides the opportunity to learn directly from these musicians and dancers so these traditions are here to stay and we will be enjoying them for a long time.
The Mobile Creativity Lab connects students with remarkable mentors from Floyd and beyond, who conspire with teens to get creative with access to current, popular digital media tools. While creating original work, teens will gain important life skills including digital technology literacy, personal discipline, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and communication: the building blocks of success in the modern workforce in the 21st century.