Junior Appalachian Musicians Program Starts Up


WYTHEVILLE, Va. – The sounds of banjos, fiddles, guitars and a host of students filled the Fourth Street Civic Center recently as the Junior Appalachian Musicians held their second class.

The Junior Appalachian Musician program or the aptly titled JAM program, for short, focuses on preserving traditional music and investing in local students.

JAM Regional Director Jim Lloyd is excited to be working with students in Wythe County.

“It’s great,” Lloyd said. “This is the best start-up class I have ever had. They do an hour of enrichment and an hour of study with us. We want to thank the community for all the support.”

Lloyd said learning about enrichment means studying about the history behind the instruments and music.

Sixty-four Wythe County students from grades fourth through eighth are learning the banjo, fiddle, upright bass and guitar through the JAM program.

Sheffey Elementary fifth-grader Dietrich Walker was ready to learn more about the guitar at the second Wythe County JAM session. Walker said he has been learning guitar for about a month. “I think it’s pretty cool, because my mom plays the guitar too,” Walker said. “I’ve got to make a lot of new friends.”

Rural Retreat Middle School sixth-grader Ginny Grace Hale said she has been learning the bass for about a month. “I have learned a few cords so far,” Hale said. “It’s a really good opportunity to learn about Appalachian culture and Appalachian instruments.”

Lloyd said JAM was founded about 18 years ago by Helen White, who started the program in Sparta, North Carolina. Lloyd said officials added seven JAM programs to the itinerary in Tennessee and one in Wythe County this year.

The Wythe County Board of Supervisors recently awarded $2,000 to the Junior Appalachian Musicians program to help with its expansion into Wythe County, Va.

The program will take place from January 31, 2019 to April 4, 2019. It is taught by master musicians from throughout the region.

“It’s really great to see 60 plus kids learning about the area’s musical heritage,” JAM Wythe County Site Coordinator Sarah Nucci said.


If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Wythe County officials, please call Blake Stowers at 276-223-4522 or email Blake at [email protected]