There are plenty of opportunities for students in Johnson City Schools, but a recent summer camp may be the first look at a budding program. More than a dozen Johnson City Schools students spent a week at the inaugural Bluegrass Camp hosted at Indian Trail Middle School.
Current and former students from the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass program were on hand to help the students included Madison Morris (fiddle), Lincoln Hensley (banjo) and Justin Alexander (guitar). The trio spent the week introducing students to Bluegrass instruments and teaching them how to play.
“This inaugural Bluegrass Camp was a tremendous success,” said Science Hill Orchestra teacher Susan Lambert, who helped oversee the camp. “The students really enjoyed learning new instruments, and the ETSU students were very helpful and knowledgeable. You could tell the college students enjoyed introducing this genre to a younger generation.”
This camp was Ethan Lopez's first experience with Bluegrass. He said that he has played the clarinet for four years and attended different band camps, but he wanted to give Bluegrass a try.
“I’ve never played bass, it is a lot of fun,” Lopez said. “I usually play sheet music, but with Bluegrass, you don’t really play on sheet music. You memorize the songs, and they go on and on.”
Taylin Davis is in 7th grade and plays the cello in the orchestra. She picked up the guitar for the first time at the Bluegrass Camp. Learning a new instrument was not very difficult for Davis, as she is used to moving her fingers playing the cello.
“Music is my thing,” Davis said. “I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and learning the new music. I’ve enjoyed the music and the different sounds we have played this week.”
Next year, Johnson City Schools will start a Bluegrass Club at Indian Trail and Liberty Bell Middle Schools. Johnson City Schools will continue to work with the ETSU program to develop a Bluegrass curriculum, with the hopes of adding it to the Science Hill Fine Arts program in the 2023 - 2024 school year.