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November 14, 2013

Teaching the next generation bluegrass

PLATTSBURGH — Little fingers — and not so little — are a-picking and a-strumming banjos, guitars and ukuleles, thanks to the Bluegrass for the Next Generation Project.

Known as BGNG, the project was launched by the generosity of an anonymous donor.

“Its conception began the summer of 2011,” said Stuart Voss, who serves as president of the project’s steering and executive committees.

“This person generated the overall idea, and different ones of us helped fill in the framework, but the vision came from the donor.”

PASSING IT ON

The project’s mission is “to encourage a lifelong interest in acoustic music, in general, and bluegrass music specifically.”

“The donor’s vision is to address a problem in bluegrass,” Voss said. “It is mainly followed by the Baby Boomers and those older people over 50 who came to like it in the ’50s and early ’70s.

“Bluegrass music needs to be brought to the next generation, hence BGNG.”

The project has a five-fold educational process:

▶ Introduce the genre through schools.

▶ Involve the new audience in listening and attendance at concerts.

▶ Encourage those musically inclined to learn to play acoustic instruments used in bluegrass.

▶ Encourage community outreach and generational mixing so interest in bluegrass music may be passed on from one generation to the next.

▶ Undertake any additional activities that further the objectives of the BGNG project.

“The first year was to create a plan that evolved by early 2012 and the first kickoff concert by the Gibson Brothers,” Voss said.

FOSTERING KNOWLEDGE

The education process includes components in high school, college and community.

Participating schools receive donations for instruments and funds so students can attend bluegrass festivals and concerts.

Glen Gillespie, Plattsburgh Bluegrass Festival founder, discounted tickets to students K-12 and college. The festival includes mini-clinics led by bluegrass professionals.

At Willsboro Central School, Superintendent Steve Broadwell and music teacher Jennifer Moore ran with the project.

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