Appalachian Youth Programs

Our programs encourage youth involvement with artisan mentors/musicians while preserving and passing on the rich lineage of Appalachian craft and music. We are dedicated to providing a safe environment for students to focus on a “creative escape” through craft or music while instilling a sense of pride and ownership in their heritage offers an alternative from similar (and seemingly simpler) escapes through drugs and alcohol. 

We envision a creative safe space in which all children have the opportunity to experience community through the joy of participating in traditional mountain music and craft together.

Eric Lorup Scholarship

The Eric Lorup Scholarship fund was established in 2017 by Karen and Ed Fouts in honor of Karen’s brother Eric. Eric was a Vietnam Veteran and taught himself slide guitar in order to cope with his PTSD. Eric embraced music therefore Karen and Ed wanted to help other young musicians follow their passion. Through their kind generosity we are able to support 6 hardworking students by offering music lessons during their second semester free of charge.

We believe that children who are actively engaged in traditional mountain music and craft are more connected and better prepared to strengthen their communities.

Appy Youth: Music

In AppyYouth:Music, instrument instruction is often augmented by dance and vocal instruction as well as string band classes and group enrichment lessons, which introduce children to additional Appalachian culture and history.  Our program model provides children with opportunities to not only learn traditional music, but to also perform in small and large groups. Field trips, visiting artists and an introduction to the rich history of music unique to each local community further supplement program offerings.

We have taken the time given during “pandemic shutdown” to evaluate our music program and our obligations to the youth of Smyth County. Prior to the shutdown, we were looking forward to hosting a weekend seminar with legendary musician Mark O’Connor. Mr. O’Connor was to meet with our music instructors and introduce them to his “O’Connor Method”.

Mark O’Connor

Next fall we will implement The O’Connor Method as our standard music curriculum. The O’Connor Method takes into consideration that, even at the beginning levels, learning music possessing a timeless quality is a healthy vehicle for engendering a lifelong love of music-making.

“The “New American School of String Playing”, of which the O’Connor Method is a part, promotes a future in which young musicians around the world socialize in more creative, self-guided, and impromptu ways: jamming, listening together, forming bands, sharing ideas, improvising, composing, playing multiple instruments, and so forth. The diverse music presented in the O’Connor Method requires students to refine the skills necessary to realize this future.” – Mark O’Connor (From the Foreword to Book V)

AppyYouth: Craft

Again a victim of the pandemic, our HendersonJAAr (Junior Appalachian Artisan) program was short-lived. As in JAM, we have taken this respite to redefine our youth programs. Our immediate and tangible outcomes and goals are to initiate dialogue between students and traditional artisan mentors, and more importantly, provide consistent and substantial studio time with an artisan mentor.

Studio sessions are followed up with connecting activities that engaged the students in active recollection, reflection, and personalization of the craft. Throughout the program students AND artisan mentors are encouraged to document their experiences through sketchbooks or journals. 

Overall, our goal is to instill pride in our youth for their mountain roots, connecting them to their rich heritage that is Appalachia and Southwest Virginia.