Pilot Program Soars Off The Ground

Adventures in Bluegrass Band


An HVBA dream has been realized!  Our first foray into the public schools began today at the Highland High School in Highland, NY.  With the support of the HVBA, Highland HS, and grant writer, Ted Ansbacher, along with some mightily talented musicians, 800 students were treated to the history and music of bluegrass.

Roy Coates, who coordinated the educational program, hosted the classes.  He brought along his grandfather’s radio that he had used to listen to the Carter Family way back when.  The radio stood proudly on the stage, while sounds from the past echoed through the room.  There was a clip of the Carters singing and an interview with Bill Monroe speaking of his Uncle Pen.  That was followed by the song….well, YOU know which song they sang.

The afternoon band consisted of Bill Keith, Fooch Fischetti, Wayne Fugate, Bob Stump and Roy Coates.  Fred Robbins was there as a volunteer to film the classes and take the wonderful pictures that you can now view on our Photo Tab.  The students clapped along enthusiastically and Roy made the connection for them of hillbilly music to blues, to rock and roll to the Grateful Dead.  He mentioned the effect of technology on the spread of the music….phonographs, radio, television.  He tied it all together and, at each step of the way, the band played the appropriate song to emphasize the point.

Roy used Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys as a vehicle for teaching the history of bluegrass and, at the near end of the “class,” he introduced one of the “real” Bluegrass Boys to them, our own Bill Keith!  The audience clapped and stamped and then quieted to a hush as Bill told them what it was like for him to travel across the country and into the South with Bill Monroe.  For this listener, that was a riveting moment and I could have listened to hours of Bill Keith telling stories about those days.

Oh no!  The bell rang signaling the end of the period.  There was so much more to tell these students and some stayed a bit longer to hear the very last sounds of the band.  This was so fantastic and such a worthwhile project for the HVBA.  800 students!!!!

The evening saw the auditorium fill up once again (maybe not 800), but just as enthused.  We also were treated to the addition of Andy Bing with his sweet, sweet dobro, who joined the band.  What a night!  It was free and priceless.  If you missed this one, you missed a great one.

Many of you have already given a donation to help keep this program alive, but we do need more.  We hope to have a grant for next year, but right now we are hoping the YOU will make this dream a reality for many more students.  We cannot do it without YOU.

To view the unedited videos of the first afternoon assembly program, click here

To view the unedited videos of the second afternoon assembly program, click here

Please note that these videos are unedited and have been filmed for the HVBA to use as an evaluation tool so that we might further refine future programs.   We thank Fred Robbins for donating his time and talent as a filmaker to help us with this project.

Click here
to donate and keep the dream alive.


Founded in 1994 to knit together the bluegrass community of musicians and fans. The HVBA is chartered as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit arts and educational organization, we promote bluegrass and related acoustic music in the Hudson Valley through jam sessions, concerts, and open mics in conjunction with other not-for-profit organizations.

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