Many children would like to learn to play bluegrass music. Once they have acquired instruments to play and have learned the basic chords, some are hampered from learning how to play with others simply because they find it difficult become members of an adult jam. They may be intimidated by their shyness or they may fear embarrassing themselves in a jam comprised mostly of experienced adult musicians. Some may become discouraged to the point that they quit learning to play and put their instruments away.

The Congregation of the United Methodist Church of Max Meadow, VA has decided to promote the future of bluegrass music through organized, regularly scheduled jams exclusively designed for juvenile bluegrass musicians. We believe that jams formed especially and only for the young musicians could provide an avenue for them to bridge the gap from learning the basics of their instruments to joining in with an adult jam or playing together with a bluegrass or bluegrass gospel group. The long term benefit, of course, will be the perpetuation of bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music for future generation to enjoy

To provide this “missing link” jam, we are asking experienced local bluegrass musician volunteers to sit in and provide breaks and background music during the youth jams as necessary. For lack of a better description we have named these youth jams “KidsGrass” to distinguish them from regular adult jams.

The jams will be held in the church activity center on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. The doors to the center will be opened at 2:30 p.m. to register participants on a “first come, first play” basis at each jam. Any changes to this schedule will be announced on the wall of this group page and by the jam coordinator as soon as they are known.

The jams will be open to all youth in the community up to and including the age of eighteen. Initially we will include all children of all ages for the entire jam. As the number participation increases over time we may divide the jams into two sessions with the younger children up to and including age twelve going first (PeeWeeGrass) and the teenagers (TeenGrass) playing last.

Participants in our youth jams will be expected to know, as a minimum, how to play in the key of “G” and to bring along a capo in addition to their instruments. Players could also bring their own sheet music and music stands, if they feel it necessary.

Parental support for this endeavor is essential. Initially, at least one parent, grandparent, or legal guardian must accompany each KidsGrass participant to each jam. This will encourage the younger musicians to concentrate on the purpose of the jam rather than using it as a social event. In addition to providing a structured environment for them to learn how to play together, having parental support will also give the children an incentive to practice at home as well as during the jams. Jam participants and their adult sponsors will be responsible for the security of instruments and other items brought to the jam.

Once regular youth jam participants have proven to be dedicated to the purpose of the jams, the requirement of one parent, grandparent, or legal guardian per jammer may be relaxed somewhat by the jam coordinator on a case-by-case basis. This would allow several participants to be monitored by one responsible adult during the jams. However, it will not be the responsibility of jam organizers to control the children‘s behavior or to be responsible for jammers‘ instruments or materials.