Bluegrass Expo for Kids will introduce children to the music and instruments of this American genre this weekend.
For those familiar with Valdosta Symphony Orchestra’s long-running annual Tunes for Tots, the Bluegrass Expo for Kids has a similar format.
The event will introduce children to instruments such as the guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, dobro and bass.
Children can participate in an instrument petting zoo that will introduce youngsters, ages 5-17 years old accompanied by their parents, on how to play each instrument.
“I believe this will definitely serve as an intro to bluegrass music and instruments, and expose the parents as well,” says Mary Ann Eason, an event organizer. “Since bluegrass music is not readily found on the radio or on TV like other forms of popular music, we want this event to give the children a taste of how this genre of music sounds, the instruments involved, and some of the songs that are sung. We hope to influence children to not only become listeners of bluegrass music, but to possibly even learn to play an instrument and carry on the tradition to future generations.”
In presenting these instruments and bluegrass music, Eason will be joined by Martengale Bluegrass Band and local musicians Spencer Jones and Reid Yeargan.
“We’ll be playing some well-known songs, such as ‘Amazing Grace,’ ‘You Are My Sunshine,’ ‘I’ll Fly Away,’ and each musician will take a few minutes to discuss their particular instrument and take questions,” Eason said.
In conjunction with the North Florida Bluegrass Association, Eason developed the children’s event based on her love for bluegrass and teaching music to youngsters.
“Children can learn from music in general,” Eason says. “There are patterns in music to be learned just as there are patterns in mathematics, and children who are taught music are shown to gain improvement in their math skills. For bluegrass music in particular, there is a richness found in the songs, old and new.”
There is also the history behind bluegrass.
“The music presents a richness of history in the old hymns that are sung, such as ‘I’ll Fly Away,’” Eason says. “There is a richness in the musical styles presented in bluegrass, from a blues-based melody to a standard waltz, to a hard-driving fast-paced tune, styles that present something for everyone to enjoy! To quote a favorite bumper sticker: ‘Country rocks, but Bluegrass rules!’ We hope the kids who attend our expo will agree.”
When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8.
Where: Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts, 527 N. Patterson St.
Admission: Free, though contributions are welcome.