Music Programs

More Programs to Get Kids Into Music

Here is some information that is great to read about.

I came across this program during a web surf and thought that it was great. It is called Violins Not Violence, and it helps to promote music to children and young adults to keep them out of gangs and crime in California. The organization recently donated a violin and guitar to two deserving youngsters who have an interest in pursuing music as a hobby or perhaps a vocation. While there is not much information on the website (, the recent donation did receive some media coverage. I recommend making a donation to the group, as one can see that actions are more powerful than words with this non-profit group started by two police officers.

A cute T-shirt is being offered by the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum, and will also be available at the ROMP Fest September 15-18 (the same week as MerleFest, another screw-up in the roots-music traffic jam of September). The shirts says, “Pick Banjos Not Fights,” and is available at the HOF website ( While no word is available on if any of the sales goes to supporting music programs directly, the HOF and the IBMA have a number of youth-oriented programs dedicated to promoting music and keeping children out of trouble.

I have talked about the Junior Appalachian Musicians program ( before, but I want to mention it again. This program has helped hundreds of kids in the southeastern region of the US with pursuing an interest in music, particularly the music form that region that was developed by their ancestors. I highly recommend going to the website and learning about it. I know that the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association (, of which I am a member and part of the Education Committee) have been working to begin such a program in our area, and we have small programs such as JAM. SEMBMA currently offers an annual scholarship program for you ages 13-18, and holds a musical instrument “Petting Zoo” at many regional bluegrass festivals.

Also of note here in the Michigan area, a SEMBMA member Dixie Roy Andres has been hosting a program called Fiddlin’ Dixie with Lil’ Friends for about 10 years now at regional bluegrass festivals. Her program gets young people into music by having them build their own canjos, shoebox guitars and toilet paper roll kazoos. It is a wonderful program to get small kids involved with. For more information, go to Dixie’s website (

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Music

Tidbits: Garcia, Ellis, SEMBMA, Circle TV, YouTube

Hey! Remember back on May 16, 2020 when my blog was about how the IBMA refuses to recognize Jerry Garcia as a viable influencer on bluegrass music ( WELL! It seems that this year’s World of Bluegrass virtual conference is having a presentation on Jerry and his work with the bluegrass music industry. Hmmm, I wonder where they got that idea from. Anyway, here’s a link to the description in the schedule: . It will be on October 1 at 11:00 am. I’m not expecting a thank you from IBMA, if you want to know.

Last Saturday the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association had its annual Hall of Honor ceremony. I was proud to see that Marvin “Red” Ellis was inducted. I wrote about him in a previous blog (, and will continue to research the history of bluegrass music in the Detroit area. On a related note, there was a good article on the Miller Brothers in the September 2020 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited. The Miller Brothers were originally from Kentucky, lived for a while in Indiana, them moved up to the Detroit area for auto factory work. While in Michigan, they recorded a few bluegrass albums in the early 1970s. They are definitely a group that I hope to research more for the SEMBMA Hall of Honor.

Speaking of SEMBMA, the Association is now awarding scholarships to youth 13-18 years of age who are interested in pursuing further education with bluegrass music. The scholarships will be paid directly to the instructor/institution, and lessons can be in-person, over the internet, or some form of video. Students can be studying a stringed instrument (guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, autoharp) or studying vocals. For more information on the scholarships and to secure an application form, go to . Submission deadline is January 1, 2021 and may require a personal interview of the applicants by SEMBMA board members and/or the scholarship committee.

Late to the Party Department: I just discovered that Circle TV ( is available in my area over the air (I don’t have cable, and my mom’s cable service sucks to say the least). I don’t watch television much, maybe an hour a day, but now that I can watch Circle, I may make use of it since the pandemic still won’t let us go to see live music. I get to watch the Opry on Saturday night (although host Bobby Bones irritates the crap out of me), reruns of Hee Haw and The Beverly Hillbillies, some Ditty TV programs, Daily & Vincent, and even some CMA songwriter programs. Pass me the Doritos!

YouTube fiddle lessons videos: I may have mentioned FiddleHed here before, but if not, I highly recommend checking him out, even if you don’t play fiddle. I have an article on him for Fiddler magazine coming up in the Winter 20/21 issue. I bring him up because he is one of the few that actually “teach” the tunes. I recently did a search for fiddle instruction for the Bill Monroe song “Uncle Pen.” A lot of videos came up, but most of them were hardly instructional. They are usually just a camera pointed at the fingerboard during the “lesson,” and no slow downs or explanation of what the fingering is. That is not instruction, that is just showing off that you can do the lick. Thank you again, FiddleHed!

Chew on it and comment.