Author: Campbell, Bruce

Some Step Off, And Others Come on Board

The CBA Message Board seems weighed down this week by the news of the passing on of some folks we had grown awfully fond of over the years. Our hearts go out to the surviving family members, and we feel like our numbers are increasingly depleted. As always, these things tend to come in clusters, and this adds to the sense of loss.

Of course, the medium contributes to this sense, because the loss of a friend is news, and someone picking up an instrument to learn how to play is not considered newsworthy. But both events are greatly significant.

So, letís take the time to remember those who depart, but letís also make news out of those who will join the ranks of bluegrass fans and pickers and singers. The California Bluegrass Association does a bang up job of making new bluegrass fans.

Go to any CBA event and you will see children Ė lots of them! And itís not just kids in their parentsí camps, although you will see that too. No, whatís striking is the sight of large circles of kids jamming. They have a whole different look than the adult pickers. For one thing, the instruments often look much bigger in proportion to their bodies, so a guitar that lays casually on the knee of an adult requires some serious reaching for a youngster. The kids have fun, but they also show a level of concentration thatís fascinating to watch. Kids like to learn, naturally, and they display a depth of focus that would amaze their parents.

There are some familiar faces youíll see amongst these groups of kids Ė the CBA is blessed with adults who have the patience and skills to shepherd young pickers through the learning process. Frank Solivan has spearheaded the Kids on Bluegrass program for years, and the KOB March is a familiar site at every CBA festival. Iím speaking of the migration of the dozens of Kids on Bluegrass participants from their camp/schoolroom, clad in matching T-shirts, to a place backstage where brave volunteers assemble what would appear to be a herd of cats into a boffo act. You can tell when the Kids on Bluegrass finish their set, no matter where you are on the festival grounds Ė the applause is thunderous!

I mentioned kids trying to fit instruments Ė sometimes itís hard enough for kids just to get their hands on decent instruments, and the CBA has addressed that, as well, with the Darrell Johnston Instrument Lending Library. Donated instruments are loaned to kids on a long-term basis Ė long enough to give them a chance to really get familiar with playing. Bruce Long heads up this program.

Also, the CBA has a youth program irrespective of the Instrument Lending Library and Kids on Bluegrass. Betsy Riger runs the Youth Program, and Kathleen Rushing handles the Youth Program at the Music Camp.

All of these efforts, by these and many other wonderful volunteers, ensure that we keep the numbers of new bluegrass fans growing. Because of these programs, some of these kids will become accomplished musicians Ė some will turn professional. Many more will be introduced to the joys of playing music with friends and family for fun, and make it a lifelong avocation.

There are many,many fine volunteers who participate in our fine youth-oriented programs. If I try to list some, I will surely miss others. All are a wonderful asset to the CBA and the furtherance of its charter.
Posted:  2/2/2011

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