by Chris Gribnau, Music Teacher:

After a very long wait, October 26 marked the day that I began my “bluegrass exploratory” class and I thought that the IBMA Foundation would appreciate seeing a photo of what I was able to purchase with the grant afforded to Georgia Elementary and Middle School last year. It turns out that I was able to buy five guitars, three mandolins and two banjos, plus some books, straps and picks. This afternoon, they will be in the hands of middle school students. Middle school is often when students begin to forge their identity. By offering this class for this age group, it will help to create a younger generation of pickers in northern Vermont.

Thank you again for funding this grant and best wishes in the future!


Mr. Gribnau teaches fifth through eighth grade students in Georgia, Vermont, at a school that already offers a traditional band and chorus. In addition to their ensemble program, the school offers a twelve-week intensive class for which students sign up by interest. Mr. Gribnau applied for an IBMA Foundation project grant to fund a course that introduces students to playing bluegrass and old-time string music. He hopes to create an on-going program that could introduce hundreds of Vermont students to a hands-on bluegrass music experience.

Trained in classical and jazz music, Gribnau is primarily a trumpet player. However, he has spent much of his adult life exploring bluegrass music, starting out first with banjo and then gravitating toward the fiddle and the mandolin He and his wife lead a local bluegrass band called “Remember Baker.”

Mr. Gribnau will teach beginning banjo, mandolin, guitar and fiddle for the 12-week intensive course, ending with a student band performance. Gribnau also hopes to collaborate with other traditional music groups in the region, such as Young Tradition Vermont and the Vermont Folklife Center. He plans to develop the course for 10 students at a time, and offer it two or three times per school year.

RETURN to the November 1, 2021 issue of The Cornerstone.