2024 is Handmade Music School’s Biggest Year Yet

Beginner Old Time Jam

From virtual and in-person workshops to youth summer camps and The 2024 Old Time Get Together, Handmade Music School has a whirlwind of an event calendar with something for everyone. 

The year kicked off with two new programs: the Handmade at Home Virtual Workshop Series and the Handmade Youth Stringband Program

The winter Virtual Workshop series offers a selection of pay-what-you-can workshops from a selection of amazing teachers around the country for all levels. They’re taught on Zoom and recorded for later if folks can’t join live. This series is a great opportunity to hear some really inspiring music, learn some new insights and techniques and reconnect with your community in the cold dark of winter. 

The Handmade Youth Stringband Program (SOLD OUT) is a weekly group music program for youth (ages 7-18) to explore music, dance, and arts from the Blue Ridge Plateau of Southwest Virginia. The inaugural Youth Stringband kicked off on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, with 57 students!

“We’re thrilled to facilitate the vibrant youth community coming together each week guided by some of our favorite mentors,” says HMS Director of Operations Sophie Moeckel. “Students have the opportunity to dive into not only their instrument, but also regional history, singing, dance, and musician skills such as microphone use and band coaching while connecting with their peers. We were amazed at the turnout this first semester and look forward to fostering this opportunity each semester!”

Also on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, Rhythm & Repertoire: A Four Week Group Fiddle, Banjo & Guitar Class began. The class is a group banjo, fiddle and guitar series taught by Mac Traynham, Jamie Collins, and Sophie Moeckel. A four week bluegrass series will be starting up in the spring, so stay tuned for more of these group classes to come. One-off in-person instrument specific and singing workshops are offered each weekend as well, as well as free and paid partner dance classes before Honky Tonk Thursday and flatfooting classes before the Friday Night Jamboree! 

Upcoming & ongoing HMS events and programs

Coming up, HMS is excited to host its second Valentine’s Day Dinner & Concert at The Floyd Country Store. Held on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024 at 6:00 PM, the evening consists of a multiple course gourmet dinner served by students, and music performed by HMS students and teachers including Jesse Smathers and Corbin Hayslett. Proceeds and donations support the Share the Music Scholarship Program and General Operating fund.

One of HMS’s exciting ongoing projects is Harmonic Heritage: Recording Southwest Virginia’s Living Musical Traditions, a recording project preserving the voices of elders singing traditional Appalachian music in Floyd. Ross Peacemaker was the first recorded in this series and Rhoda Kemp’s will be the next release coming soon. Harmonic Heritage is made possible by a Community Impact grant from Virginia Commission for the Arts. The idea for the project came from HMS’s realization that so many elders who have been mentors to the community for years have not been recorded. With an emphasis on old time, bluegrass, and early country music from Floyd County and beyond, Harmonic Heritage aims to put the elders of a nearly-past generation in front of a microphone (and cameras) to enshrine their voices, songs, and stories for musicians, their families, our community, and folklorists to hear and study for years to come.

Beginner Old Time Jam at The Floyd Country Store
Beginner Old Time Jam at The Floyd Country Store

Looking ahead to spring and summer

In March, HMS’s event-of-the-year is happening at the Floyd EcoVillage: The Fifth Annual Floyd County Old Time Get Together. This amazing four-day adult camp is scheduled for March 21 – 24, 2024 at the Floyd EcoVillage. The Floyd Old Time Music Get Together offers intermediate and advanced classes in fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, Appalachian dance, and singing. Afternoon sessions will feature presentations and workshops with visiting masters, and evenings will offer square-dancing, concerts, and lots of tune-playing opportunities. Instructors include Alice Gerrard, Bruce Molsky, Allison de Groot, Reed Stutz, Chance McCoy, Tessa McCoy, Mac Traynham, Sophie Moeckel and Gina Dilg. Plus additional staff musicians: Haseldon Ciaccio, Corbin Hayslett, Hanna Traynham, Jared Boyd, and Raistlin Brabson. There’s still time to register, but only a few spots left, so don’t wait!

In July, HMS will hold the Third Annual Youth Get Together at the EcoVillage, offering two sessions this year do to a sold out camp last year. The Youth Get Together is a fun-filled camp offering exciting and interactive classes in fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, singing, bass, and dance for youth (ages 7-16). The first session will take place July 8 – 12, 2024 and the second will take place on July 15 – 19, 2024. The first session is geared towards beginner and intermediate players (ages 7-11) and runs from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM Monday to Friday. The second week is for more advanced players (ages 12-16) and runs from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM Monday to Friday. Lodging for families is available on-site. More summer educational opportunities 

Get involved with HMS

For anyone local interested in playing or practicing old time music, HMS hosts a free Beginner Old Time Jam every Sunday in the Community Room at The Floyd Country Store from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. This is a great way to meet new friends, get to know the HMS community, and get comfortable playing music in a group setting. This weekly jam is led by Heather Krantz.

And of course, HMS has in-person workshops and in-person and virtual private lessons available year-round for children AND adults. To learn more about all of HMS’s educational opportunities, check out the website. To watch HMS educational content and Floyd Country Store concert and event footage, visit Floyd Country Store TV

Stay tuned for more exciting HMS news coming soon!

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