In addition to monetary and stock donations, some much-appreciated starter to mid-range level bluegrass instruments have been donated to the IBMA Foundation in the past year.
Three banjos with cases, capos and picks were donated in April 2021 by Casey Henry, a professional banjo player and educator affiliated with the Murphy Method video instructional company based in Winchester, Virginia. All three banjos found new homes with African American youth or families interested in learning to play the banjo through the Black Banjo Reclamation Project.
Directed by Hannah Mayree and based in the San Francisco Bay, California area, the Black Banjo Reclamation Project seeks to return instruments of African origin to the descendants of their original makers. According to their website at blackbanjoreclamationproject.org, Mayree says, “Our theory of change is tied directly to re-appropriating our own culture by receiving banjos. . . and over time, gaining skills that will advance individuals and communities for generations to come. This includes ancestral survival and land-based skills including fostering the trade of instrument building and repair.”
Last February an anonymous supporter donated an acoustic bass, case, extra set of strings and stand to the JamPak community bluegrass program for young musicians in Chandler, Arizona.
In March, Tom Brown, a retired teacher, musician, songwriter, playwright, and longtime supporter of the IBMA Foundation donated an acoustic bass, a fiddle, three mandolins, and three guitars. They were re-granted to J.A.M., the Junior Appalachian Musicians program.
Founded in 2000 by the late Helen White with local musicians in Alleghany County, North Carolina, JAM is an afterschool program for children in grades 4– 8 (and beyond) that introduces instruments commonly associated with the Appalachian region like fiddle, banjo, and guitar through group lessons. By affiliating with JAM, each program is eligible to receive support and instruments at no charge. The JAM program often includes vocal instruction, traditional dancing, and opportunities to jam and perform in local communities. (More info at their website)
If you have a bluegrass instrument in good condition that’s not being used, please consider donating it to the IBMA Foundation by contacting Nancy Cardwell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615.260.4807. We will do our best to put it into the hands of a young person seriously interested in learning to play bluegrass whose family can’t afford to buy banjos, mandolins, fiddle, guitars, resonator guitars, acoustic guitars, and acoustic basses. What better way to encourage and support the next generation of bluegrass musicians and fans than to literally put instruments in their hands and help them find lessons?
Return to the October 5, 2021 issue of The Cornerstone.