The Junior Appalachian Musicians Program (JAM) of Alleghany County is one of 50 finalists across the country for their work in providing excellent art and humanities learning opportunities to young people. The announcement was made yesterday by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and its cultural partners – the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
From big cities to small towns, the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Finalists reflect the diversity of disciplines and settings of these exceptional programs that are taking place from coast to coast.
The Alleghany JAM program is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council and is the original JAM program founded in 2000 by guidance counselor and traditional musician Helen White.
Her vision was to enrich the lives of children through active involvement in the music of their community. A cache of instruments was acquired to allow students of limited means the opportunity to learn an instrument. Over the years, partnerships with Alleghany County Schools, the National Endowment for the Arts, N.C. Arts Council, Alleghany County Educational Foundation, Inc., Alleghany Fiddlers Convention, and the help and hard work of many friends continue to make Alleghany JAM and traditional mountain music a reality in the lives of local youth.
Alleghany County has a rich traditional music heritage especially with notable stringbands and musicians from the area that influenced the early days of country music including: The Red Fox Chasers, Bertie Dickens (old time banjo player), Art Wooten (fiddler with Bill Monroe), Dave Sturgill (guitar builder and banjo player) and Del Reeves of the Grand Ole Opry.
Since its creation the Alleghany JAM program has served more than 80 children per semester from all three elementary and junior high schools in the county, as well as home schooled children for grades 3 to 8. The lessons are taught by master traditional musicians in guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo (and sometimes dulcimer and bass). There are also folk song and clogging enrichment classes for youth. Students take classes twice per week in both an instrument and enrichment area. The instructional site is Sparta Elementary School in Sparta. Class fees operate on a sliding scale based on school lunch status. Instruments are available on loan at no additional cost.
For more information on the Alleghany JAM program visit: http://jamkids.org/alleghany
To view a complete list of finalists visit http://www.nahyp.org.