BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va. (Oct. 5, 2023) – The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) has announced that the Birthplace of Country Music Museum will become an affiliate location for the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program starting this fall. Classes will be held at 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays each week, beginning Oct. 21.
Incorporated as a nonprofit in 2008, JAM is a program for children in grades 4-8 and beyond, that introduces music through small group instruction on instruments common to the Appalachian region such as fiddle, banjo, and guitar. Classes are after school and/or through affiliate partners across the region. The program has expanded to nearly 30 locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, serving thousands of children.
“We are thrilled to be joining the Junior Appalachian Musicians as an affiliate and beginning our own branch of this wonderful program here at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum,” said museum Curatorial Manager Erika Barker. “This partnership enables us to extend the musical engagement we provide through our Pick Along Summer Camps and to share the excitement of learning and playing music more widely. JAM has introduced so many young people to the traditional music of our region and provides access to the instruments and instruction they need to build a lifelong connection to our music heritage.”
With the JAM program, instrument instruction is often augmented by dance and vocal instruction as well as string band classes and group enrichment lessons, which introduce children to additional Appalachian culture and history. The JAM program model provides children with opportunities to not only learn traditional music, but to also perform in small and large groups. Field trips, visiting artists, and an introduction to the rich history of music unique to each local community further supplement program offerings. Each JAM program is encouraged to foster musical traditions by teaching local styles of traditional mountain music and dance to students. Instructors are also encouraged to teach students to learn music by ear, so as to preserve oral traditions as much as possible. Other teaching methodologies and instructional skills are covered in regional professional development and training sessions held multiple times per year and hosted by JAM. JAM also encourages student engagement across programs with regional performance and learning activities throughout the year.
JAM classes will be held in the museum’s Learning Center. The cost for participation is $5 per class or students may sign up for 10 lessons at $45. Fiddles, banjos, and guitars will be available for students to use at no cost; other instruments will be introduced as determined by the instructors. Scholarships are available upon request. Lessons can be paid for all at once or as you go.
To learn more about Junior Appalachian Musicians, visit their website at JamKids.org. For more information about JAM Kids at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, visit the Events pages at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.