Kids on Bluegrass

2024 applications now closed


IBMA’s Kids on Bluegrass program spotlights the talents of young bluegrass musicians and singers (4-17 years old) at IBMA World of Bluegrass 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, Ivy Phillips, 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 IBMA Bluegrass Live! festival, Friday evening and Saturday morning. The sets feature each 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 Pre-Awards Reception prior to the IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards.

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, giving 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 Facebook group page (IBMA 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.


  1. Please include a newly-recorded YouTube video, specifically for this application – No videos of the child performing on stage.  (Also, do not attach old YouTube clips or Google Drive clips. These will not be reviewed and your child will not get the opportunity to be chosen.)
  2. List all instruments and vocal parts in which you/your child are well-versed.
  3. The commitment for Kids on Bluegrass program is from Wednesday, September 25 (if chosen for the IMBA Awards Show band) through the evening of Saturday, September 28. Please ensure you can commit to these dates and times before applying.
  4. There is a requirement that you can participate in either the Kids on Bluegrass program or apply for the youth stage as a band. YOU CANNOT DO BOTH, as it creates scheduling conflicts.
  5. If you commit to Kids on Bluegrass, you MUST be present at all rehearsals and performances.


For questions, please email Kimber Ludiker.

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