From Annie Savage, Ph.D. candidate:

December 2022 – The Free Strings Method  is a comprehensive online curriculum for string players of all stripes, based on the nexus among creative musicianship, cultural inclusiveness, and the skillset required for a lifetime in music. The IBMA Foundation grant that we received was used to create a special “Bluegrass and Blues” module that is the first teacher training course of its kind, designed to train a classroom orchestra instructor to deliver to public school students the nuanced skill set and technique we enjoy in bluegrass bands, jams, and workshops. Our grant helped us hire bluegrass artists Greg Blake and Blake Shaw, in addition to using the technology prowess of Daniel Routh at Turnberry Records to create a beautiful and easy-to-use interface.  

Available online or in a physical DVD, each lesson comes with:
-student lessons
-teacher trainer lessons
-jam-along video (with the chord changes in a bouncing ball effect) with an all-star band of Greg Blake, Annie Savage, Iris Savage-Webster, and Blake Shaw
-notated melody, backup, break and twin for all traditional orchestral instruments (violin, viola, cello, and bass)  

The effect is a multi-angle approach to providing anyone with almost any musical background the ability to jam and play bluegrass,all in a culturally relevant setting taught by a diverse and entertaining cast of all-stars.  

Free Strings Method founder Annie (IBMA Mentor of the Year 2020, Leadership Bluegrass Planning Committee, and past president of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society) will be coordinating the bluegrass and old-time jams at this year’s American String Teachers’ Association national conference and presenting the Free Strings at the Wintergrass Festival in Bellevue, WA. She is currently living in Iowa and finishing a dissertation on the topic of nontraditional string ensembles in public schools.  

Want to help your local orchestra teachers get hip to bluegrass? Expand your own skillset in the privacy of your own home? Or maybe you are a band that wants to do school assemblies but doesn’t have a ready-made curriculum? Well, here you are! Free the strings with the Free String Method!  


Free Strings Sample Lesson

From Jennifer Gewin, board chair of Bluegrass Bettering Our Community dba Bluegrass Battles Hunger (St. Joseph, MO):

December 2022 – I am happy to report that Bluegrass Battles Hunger 2022 was a huge success! Thanks to our patrons and sponsors, we collected 407 pounds of food and donated $4,000 to Second Harvest Community Food Bank. The grant from the IBMA Foundation was a crucial part of our overall success, but particularly in the area of educational presentations. The project grant truly helped us get on our feet this year, and we are incredibly grateful.

Thanks again for supporting Bluegrass Battles Hunger. Kindest and warmest regards!

Photo above: St. Joseph Arts Academy at Bluegrass Battles Hunger in St. Joseph, MO (Tara Duckworth, photographer)

Return to the January 2023 issue of The Cornerstone.