Students have been learning all about bluegrass music and traditional stringed instruments for 11 years through the Georgia Pick & Bow Traditional Music School in Dahlonega.
Year after year they’ve learned from local instructors. But the music school recently received a Vibrant Communities grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts that will give students the opportunity to learn and the community the opportunity to hear from a nationally known and touring bluegrass artist, Valerie Smith and the Liberty Pike band.
“She’s a music educator, so she’s trained in that way,” said Ann Whitley Singleton, a teacher, curriculum director and board member at the music school. “She’s a fabulous song writer, and the band is great.”
What: Valerie Smith and the Liberty Pike band
When: 7:30 p.m. March 3
Where: Nix Fine Arts, 238 Georgia Circle, Dahlonega
How much: $15
Not only will Smith and the band help teach the students, they’ll perform a public concert 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at the Gloria Shott Performance Hall in the Nix Fine Arts building on the University of North Georgia’s Dahlonega campus. The tickets for the show are $15, with all proceeds going back to the music school to help the students.
Over the years, Georgia Pick & Bow has been teaching children from elementary school through high school about bluegrass music. Whitley Singleton said it’s because it’s the “roots of the area.” The goal is to keep the music the South is known for alive, and that all starts with the children.
“It’s the music of this part of the country,” Whitley Singleton said. “It’s what the folks played in the countryside and the mountains, particularly because Dahlonega is a mountain town.”
Smith will join the students that Friday night and Saturday to teach some things they may not learn during a typical day at the after-school program. They have classes lined up to teach about voice, performance and harmonies.
“It’s just going to be something new and different,” Whitley Singleton said. “And it’s free to the kids, which is a good thing because some of our kids struggle.”
Whitley Singleton said they knew they had to use the grant to bring in Smith because of her experience as a music educator. They knew she would be able to communicate with the students in a way that a normal artist may not be able to.
“Some of our students are so young that they don’t exactly know who they’re going to get to see, but some of them do know,” Whitley Singleton said. “I think they’re thrilled to get lessons from different people, because they’ve just been learning from all of us.”