Many people start playing music at a young age. Some take individual lessons while others rely on after-school programs. Pickin’ in the Schoolyard highlighted all of these aspects over the weekend through the showcase of young talent as well as experienced musicians.

Junior Appalachian Musicians, JAM, hosted their annual fundraiser Pickin’ in the Schoolyard to help raise funds for their program.

Pickin’ in the Schoolyard has been a fundraising event for the past five years. It was formed to help start up the JAM program at the high school. It took two fundraisers before JAM could officially get started.

JAM is a weekly program in which students from the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Program teach students in grades 4-12 about Appalachian music.

“We average about 20 students, and we have students of all levels,” volunteer Kim Allison said. “There are students that have never picked up an instrument before.”

One of the bands that performed was Bluegrass Firelight. Aaron “Frosty” Foster said the band decided to play the gig because of his instructor position with JAM.

“Every year I’ve been a JAM instructor, I’ve played this gig,” he said. “This is an important fundraiser for the JAM program. It’s important because it’s tied to the University High School here. It’s good to keep the music in the youth, because youth is the future of the music.”

Throughout the day, there was a series of performances held by various groups. Some of the performances the crowd liked were the elementary school students, who performed traditional folk songs such as “Shady Grove.” Another crowd favorite was the JAM students, who crowded the stage with their instruments, alongside their teachers, and played classic old time songs.

Not only did it benefit the program, but it allowed the community to develop a better understanding of what Appalachian music could do for them too.

Pickin’ in the Schoolyard was successful in showcasing the upcoming talent of many of the young musicians, as well as the seasoned talent of a few more experienced bluegrass bands.

“I hope the younger musicians get a little more inspired and want to play more,” Foster said. “I hope that other members of the community and the parents see something that they want to support and help grow.”