JAMS: Junior Appalachian Music Program

The unique music of the Appalachians has a deep cultural significance that has been passed on from generation to generation, providing a sense of place, identity and pride to those who participate. The Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program is based on the belief that children are an important link in efforts to preserve these traditions. JAM is an after school program offering traditional music education for youth ages 8-14 and beyond. Children learn to play and dance to old time and bluegrass music, while learning about the history and culture of Appalachia.

A group of local musicians, arts organizations and school personnel initiated the first JAM program in Sparta, NC in 2000. Interest in the program spread rapidly, and there are now 41 programs operating in the Appalachian regions of 4 states (including a program in Floyd County). Over the years they have seen the lives of thousands of children change as they experience the joy of participating in traditional music. It’s all about building community ‘one tune at a time’.

Thanks to the efforts of a local committee, new JAM programs are planned for elementary age students in both Giles and Montgomery Counties. Montgomery’s once-a-week after school program in Christiansburg hopes to enlist 35 students for the first 10-week session starting in January 2018. Local musicians will provide instruction on traditional instruments, including fiddle, banjo and guitar, and instruments will be loaned to participating students for home practice. For information on registering for the Montgomery JAM program email MontgomeryVAJAM@gmail.com. For more details on the Newport based program email: lgreene@pemtel.net.

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