Pick and Bow

Students who participated in the “Pick and Bow” after-school music program perform during a concert held at May Valley last week.

Students from across Floyd County have been learning traditional mountain music in the “Pick and Bow” after-school music program, and officials say summer programs will also be available this year.  

Since October, “Pick and Bow” students have been receiving weekly instruction in guitar, banjo and other instruments from instructors Meghan Bryant, Melanie Turner, Stephanie May Rose and Sam Gleaves, the program coordinator. 

The program is hosted by May Valley Elementary and a school in Knott County, and it is sponsored by the Hindman Settlement School with help from South Arts and the International Bluegrass Music Association. Gleaves said it’s an expansion of the “Pick and Bow” program offered by Appalshop in Whitesburg.

“It’s been really amazing to see the students here enjoying music and doing so well, learning so much,” Gleaves said. 

May Valley Principal Kathy Shepherd said she is thrilled that her students are able to participate.

“It’s been a wonderful experience and opportunity our kids here at May Valley and some of the surrounding schools. It’s opened up a culture for our kids that possibly would not have been possible for them if this program hadn’t come in. The bluegrass music is a music that’s part of our Eastern Kentucky and Appalachian culture and we’re just so glad to have this opportunity for our children to be able to participate in this program.”

Turner, who has been playing the banjo since she was 10 years old, agreed to instruct classes because we wants to pass along that history of the region’s bluegrass tradition.  

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the students, to have the opportunity, the chance to learn traditional bluegrass and Appalachian music,” Turner said. “That’s something that means a lot to me, and I don’t want it to die, you know. I want the young kids to learn these songs and these traditions.”

She and Bryant talked about why they love music, saying it makes them happy. Bryant, a Billie Jean Osborne Kentucky Opry member, has been playing since she was six.

“It’s just a feeling that, you can share happiness with other people. It makes you happy to play it, but it also makes you happy to play it for other people or to teach other people, and I think it’s great that they have the opportunity to be able to get that feeling and share it with other people in the future,” Bryant said. 

Gleaves said lessons are offered through the program from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday at MVES, and in the summer, there will also be several music camps in the region, including the Appalachian Family Folk Gathering, which will be held June 3-6 at the Hindman Settlement School and “Pick and Bow” camps that will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 12 and June 19 at Duff Allen Central Elementary. Gleaves said “Pick and Bow” students could receive scholarships to attend the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, which will also be held June 24-28 at Cowan Creek in Letcher County. Bryant is teaching at that week-long event this year. He said “Pick and Bow” would resume in the fall at MVES.

There is no cost to participate in “Pick and Bow” and rental instruments are available. For more information, call Hindman Settlement School at, (606) 785-5475, or e-mail Gleaves at, sgleaves@hindmansettlement.org

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