Kids on Bluegrass

2019 Application Now Closed


The Kids on Bluegrass program spotlights the talents of young bluegrass musicians and singers (4-17 years old) at the IBMA’s annual Wide Open Bluegrass Festival in Raleigh, NC. The program matches kids of similar abilities, offering the opportunity to create and arrange music instrumentally and vocally, and to perform in a group of their peers. Many Kids on Bluegrass alumni have gone on to become professional musicians, including Sierra Hull, Sarah Jarosz, Casey Campbell, Cory Walker, Nick Keen, Alex Hargreaves, Seth Taylor, Molly Tuttle, Austin Ward, Christian Ward, Gaven Largent and Cory Piatt.

More than a workshop or “academy” experience, the program’s goals are to provide guidance, and to foster a fun atmosphere for producing, performing, promoting, and even emceeing a professional bluegrass music show.  Kids on Bluegrass plays two separate sets at the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival, Friday evening and Saturday morning. In both sets each child is a featured musician, performing one or two songs of his or her choice.  Additionally, a select group of Kids on Bluegrass are invited to perform during the BMI Nominees Reception prior to the IBMA Awards Show.

The group “jam” songs are determined by our committee of instructors and are usually theme-based. (For example, both Doc Watson and Flatt & Scruggs songs were chosen the year that Doc and Earl passed away.  In 2013 the kids paid tribute to Del McCoury.)  Each young musician receives the song selections and keys in advance, to give them plenty of time to rehearse before the event.

They are also asked to select their featured songs in advance. Once instrumentation is determined, back-up musicians are recruited so that everyone has an equal opportunity to play with others. A private Facebook group page (Kids on Bluegrass) allows them to interact with each other throughout the year.  On this page, they can network with the kids assigned to their songs. They also discuss anything from new songs that they’ve discovered to their grades on a history test. Instructors post positive messages throughout the year, encouraging their studies.

This program expects courtesy toward others and professionalism on stage, and every year since 2003 the Kids on Bluegrass musicians have exceeded all expectations with their talent, professionalism and enthusiasm.


For questions, please email Deanie Richardson

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