I had the opportunity to chat with Jim Mullens recently about a wonderful program that he provides leadership for as part of the Smith Mountain Arts Council offerings: the Franklin County branch of the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM). Originally started in far southwestern Virginia by a Mrs. Helen White, the JAM organization now has +/- 40 chapters throughout Appalachia. Our local branch being the northern most group. As you may have gathered from the name, its heart and purpose is to preserve and pass down the rich musical heritage of our region to the next generation.
Not surprising, given his love of music and his heart for children (Jim is a retired principal), the concept of JAM really captured his attention when he happened upon it nine years ago in a local publication. He knew it was something the young musicians of Franklin County could benefit from. As a long-time board member of the Smith Mountain Arts Council, Jim brought the JAM program in under SMAC's umbrella. Recently awarded a grant from the Wayne C. Henderson Scholarship Commitee they are excited about the opportunities this scholarship will afford to the students in the coming year.
At present they have around 20 musicians in the program. The vast majority receive instruction in guitar, but the mandolin, fiddle, and banjo are also represented. The program is structured for youth between grades 4 and 9, but opportunities exist for them to remain involved with JAM well beyond those years. Meeting weekly during the school year on Tuesday evenings they start off with lessons that are ability-level and instrument specific and then come together as a group to learn and play along with each other.
The students of FC JAM have an upcoming end-of-semester concert to showcase what they have been working on. It is free, open to the public, and I'm sure your support would mean the world to these dedicated musicians!
April 26th | 4:30pm | The Gereau Center (Rocky Mount)
Summer offerings can vary and are based on interest. Keep up to date via their Facebook page where they share the latest information on what the Junior Appalachian Musicians are up to.
Should you have further questions, feel free to contact Mr. Mullens at: email@example.com