From Bayla Davis, age 14, recipient of a 2022 Fletcher Bright Memorial Grant for Young Musicians:  

I loved the  camp! I really enjoyed Kristin Scott Benson’s class because she taught me a whole lot about the three-finger style. I could only play clawhammer and two finger, so it was all very new to me. Kristin understood that and really helped me. Ryan Cavanaugh’s class was a whole bunch of fun because he told us the funniest stories about students. 

My favorite part of the entire camp was going on stage and playing. I played for all of my favorite banjo players, my friends, and the audience that came to see Mr. Bela! Getting on stage and talking has still been a little bit out of my comfort zone, so it was nice to practice some more on the Brevard Music Stage! One thing that helped me with that was trying to be funny, so I really tried to make the audience laugh a lot. 

After I got off stage, people walked up to me and gave a whole bunch of compliments, and I loved that. I always told them that I was really nervous, but they said they couldn’t even notice, so that gave me more confidence to get on stage and talk more often. 

The other thing that I loved about the camp was all the jamming. After the teachers all performed for us, we would spend the rest of the night jamming with classmates. My friend Marlee and I would play clawhammer with other three-finger artists, which was a lot harder than it sounds, but it was really cool to learn and play music in a new style that we were not used to playing. 

I made sure to connect with other young musicians, and I became really good friends with an amazing bluegrass player named Allanabeth, a 10-year-old prodigy player named Dante, and an awesome jazz banjo player named Nikolai. 

Allanabeth was the only other youth girl banjo player, and she was really fun to jam with. During the intermission on Saturday night, she played with me, Marlee, and my two siblings, Sylvie and Judah. So, it was really nice to have another girl banjo player to hang out with. 

Dante was really kind to me during the camp. He was really comfortable with talking to older kids and adults, and he was REALLY good at bluegrass music. The coolest thing about him was that he had only been playing banjo for a year, and he was self-taught at 10 years old!

Nicolai was also really awesome to hang out with. We talked a lot backstage after our performances, and he was really fun to talk to about performing and just music in general. 

Overall, the camp was really fun! Mostly It really took me out of my comfort zone because I met a lot of youth musicians I had never seen before. The only disappointment was that I tried really hard to get a pair of Tony Trischka banjo socks, but they sold out!

Thank you again for the scholarship,

Bayla Davis

From Bayla’s mom, Stephanie Davis:

Thank you again for the scholarship; she would not have been able to attend otherwise and has had an incredible time learning and playing.

RETURN to the September 2022 issue of The Cornerstone.