The Mountaineer

January 14, 2023

Celebrate Appalachian music and how it is passed along to young Haywood County musicians.

An open house for the Junior Appalachian Musicians program will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Folkmoot Friendship Center.

“The open house is a great opportunity to meet the instructors, ask questions, test instruments and listen to some traditional Appalachian music,” said Morgan Beryl, executive director of the Haywood County Arts Council, which spearheads the JAM program.

The program is for students fourth grade and up. JAM not only teaches kids how to play traditional Appalachian music, but the group environment makes it a fun shared experience.

“Our goal is to make traditional music fun for the students,” said Cary Fridley, one of the JAM instructors. “They are working on learning the banjo or fiddle or guitar in class, but they are also making friends, playing games and singing songs each week.”

Haywood County students get an opportunity to learn from the greats, thanks to Haywood’s legacy of skilled musicians who serve as dedicated instructors. Instructors included Travis Stuart, Maddy Mullany and Cary Fridley — teaching singing, banjo, guitar and fiddle.

The weekly lessons are held at the Folkmoot Center in Hazelwood.

“Folkmoot has been a great place to meet, and there is enough space to do an activity in a big group or to sometimes have class outside,” Fridley said. “The student numbers have been increasing over the last couple of years, and last semester we had two fiddle classes and two guitar classes, which is exciting.”

The JAM program in Haywood is one of many located throughout Appalachia. It is under the umbrella of the arts council.

“JAM is Haywood County Arts Council’s longest standing program and one of the most meaningful,” Beryl said.

Registration is $95 per semester and only $75 per additional sibling. Instrument rentals are $25 per semester.

“HCAC is committed to keeping registration fees low, providing scholarships to those in need, and paying a living wage to our instructors,” said Beryl.

The JAM program would not be possible without foundation, grant and individual donor support.

“We are so grateful for the community support JAM receives as it that makes HCAC’s goals of involving youth in the arts at a low cost possible,” said Beryl.