Author: Varner, Mark

How to raise a child, bluegrass-style

Dear friends,

If there’s one thing we do around here it’s obsess about stuff. We are, after all, an association built upon adherence, maybe even fanaticism, to the proposition that the music we love deserves to be both preserved and promoted. Most people are happy just to listen to music on their ipods, but not us!

But what’s this? Three Welcome Columns in the row about “education”? Yeah! We’re obsessive! I hope you got to read my son Marty’s column on Saturday. We are so proud of him! And of course Marcos’ Sunday column about writing was excellent, as always.

When we decide to do something it is done with gusto and an eye on the long term. Our desire to include the younger generation(s) in our passions and in our time has been a decades long CBA endeavor. Kids On Bluegrass is a long running and highly visible component of our efforts and it is what most folks think of then they think of CBA’s youth programs. But we did not stop there and we keep finding more ways to get young people into music.

It’s been fourteen years since we started an educational CBA Music Camp to run just prior to the Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival. In that time many youngsters have attended Camp, many on scholarships donated by generous CBA members. The kids, based on their abilities, study shoulder-to-shoulder with adult students under the finest teachers/artists in America. In fact we hire young uber-talented teachers like Molly Tuttle to really spice things up. But CBA Music Camp is also home to FunGrass, a musical instruction program for very young children, run by Kathleen Rushing. Kathleen is a retired Kindergarten/Music Specialist and is known for her fun Bingo Schmingo Music She and her very able and wonderful volunteer team will not only spend time making music with these children, they will get them on stage for the Music Camp’s grand finale: the student concert.

It’s not unusual for an event like the Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival to have a place for children to play and do crafts in a supervised setting, but our KidFest, also run by the much-loved Kathleen Rushing takes on a musical dimension, among other fun activities. KidFest will be located behind the audience area of the big stage, behind the handicap RV Parking. Activities are designed for ages 2- 12. Parents need to accompany their children, as this is not day care. Tentative times will be from 11:00 a.m - 3:00 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the Father's Day Festival.

BTW! Kathleen is looking for enthusiastic, kid friendly volunteers for KidFest. Volunteers will need to submit full name, DOB, SS#, and Driver's license number for screening as we are very serious about qualified and appropriate members for this team. Please contact Deb Livermore, or Kathleen Rushing, to be a part of this way fun group!

Last year we really jumped the shark, creating a music camp just for kids who are on the cusp of becoming for real musicians: The CBA Youth Academy. Here’s what Youth Program Coordinator and CBA President Darby Brandli has to say about the Academy:

“The 2nd Annual CBA Youth Academy is ready to roll out for 2014. We changed the name from Bluegrass Camp for Kids to the CBA Youth Academy. We changed the days to Wednesday through Saturday to ensure four full days of instruction and fun for the participants. We have reserved stage time on the Pioneer Stage for an end-of-camp performance Saturday afternoon at 3P. We started raising scholarship money in 2013. We have younger siblings of attendees from last year registered with their older “experienced” siblings and ready to go! There is room for a few more young people and there is still scholarship money available.

“Providing a Music Camp for our young people was a dream realized last year and while the camp was a huge success we have made some changes this year to make the camp even more successful. This is a real “music camp for kids” with instrumental instruction, singing, songwriting, dancing, jamming, performing. Your children will be fully entertained during the days of the festival. is hired to produce the camp and they have information about our Grass Valley camp posted on their website. They also have a pretty extensive FAQ section. I am available for any questions you might have at

“Jacob Groopman will manage the CBA Youth Academy again this year and some of the faculty from last year will return and we have added other experienced instructors from the Bluegrass Camps for Kids stable of musicians. BCforKids has been producing these camps for years and have a curriculum and materials that work for children this age. They teach beginning to advanced, young kids to teens and have many other camps under their belt. They run camps during other festivals and also free standing. The website tells the tale.

“All registration for the camp is through me and the CBA. Tuition is $300 and partial scholarships up to $200 are available. A responsible adult must attend the festival and deliver and pick up the child. The Academy times are approximately 9-3 daily. We will be available to provide instruments for the camp for student use and we will provide snacks. Once registered through the CBA there is a separate registration process through Bluegrass Camps for Kids and all information about level of instruction, instrument request etc will be through Kate Hamre, Director of the Program.

“We understand that some local school districts will still be in school that week because we have already enrolled children who are going to miss the last half week of school. Speak to us if you want to enroll but can only attend for three days.

“We are pleased and excited to offer this “new” program. These are the next generation of fans and pickers and it is up to all of us, the CBA Community, to spread the word and support these children. I am still accepting scholarship donations, check made out to CBA Youth Program (memo: Youth Academy) and mailed to Darby Brandli, 2106 9th Avenue, Oakland, CA 94606. I will immediately send you a tax letter because your donation may be tax deductible through our 501 (c )3 status.”

Your pal,
Mark Varner
Posted:  4/7/2014

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