The Youth Program consists of recreational, instructional and performance components and manages an instrument lending library.
Programs for children at the Father’s Day Festival, held each year on the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, began over two decades ago and expand every year.
CBA Youth Academy
Online Bluegrass Academy
In September 2021, the IBMA Kids on Bluegrass program was not able to get together in person in Raleigh, North Carolina. But that didn’t stop them. With help from the California Bluegrass Association, these 30 talented youth decided to collaborate in a virtual performance, and selected songs to commemorate four music icons that we’ve lost during the past year. See it here →
Support Our Kids’ Programs
Financial support, as well as in-kind donations of instruments and accessories, are an essential basis of our kids programs. Your gift helps strengthen and enrich our Bluegrass culture by encouraging the next generation to play and enjoy music.
Kids on Bluegrass
The California Bluegrass Association is well known and acknowledged for our Kids on Bluegrass (KOB) program. KOB has been emulated by festivals around the world including the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) annual event, the World of Bluegrass.
CBA member Frank Solivan, Sr. put together a group of young pickers at a festival a quarter century ago because his young musician son, Frank Solivan II, wanted to play on the main stage. Play they did and the Kids on Bluegrass (KOB) program began. Today KOB is directed by Frank’s successor, Helen Foley, who herself has risen through the CBA’s youth programs.
Kids on Bluegrass will be back at the 2022 Father’s Day Festival, and it will be better than ever! Running for over 35 years, KOB is a program where kids come together and practice for multiple days in preparation for shows on the Main Stage at the festival. This is the perfect place for talented youth looking to develop a strong stage presence, work together with members of a band, practice putting on a real show, and make life-long friends and memories!
As with many things, KOB will be changing for the better in 2022. All kids interested in KOB – both new and returning – will be asked to audition on Thursday morning of the festival before rehearsals start. In order for participants to be able to take full advantage of what the program has to offer, they will be expected to know how to play backup rhythm in time with others, know multiple tunes by heart, and have a tune or song in mind that they might be interested in leading. Singers are encouraged to participate! Auditions are open to any “kid” under the age of 18. (We have even had qualified 7-year-olds!) Since KOB is not centered around teaching kids how to play their instruments, beginner level performers are encouraged to explore opportunities provided by the other CBA programs such as KidFest or the Youth Academy.
KOB this year will also be more concentrated, with practices only on Thursday and Friday and a single show on the Main Stage on Friday afternoon. In place of the KOB show regularly scheduled for Saturday afternoon, we will be putting on a very special CBA Youth All-Stars show! Stay tuned on the Youth section of the website for more details about this celebration of the incredible talent the CBA has helped foster, as well as more of the who, what, when, and where of Kids on Bluegrass at Father’s Day.
Helen Foley, Program Director
Kathleen Rushing (http://www.bingoschmingo.com) coordinates this program. Activities include crafts, tie-dying, lemonade making, musical games, musical performances and water play on the grass. Kathleen also coordinates our FunGrass activities which occur (for a small price) during our CBA Music Camp, which precedes the festival.
Kids Instrument Lending Library
The Kids Instrument Lending Library was the brainchild of Darrell Johnston, past CBA Treasurer. Darrell had a great love for bluegrass and old time music and was passionate about children learning to play the music. He learned about one young girl’s need for a fiddle, so he purchased a small fiddle, donated it to the girl and the Darrell Johnston Kids Instrument Lending Library began. Darrell passed away shortly after this deed and the CBA decided to formalize a lending program and name it after him.
Since then, Randy January has taken over the library and the inventory of donated bluegrass instruments (guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass, banjo, dobro) has grown. There are now almost 70 instruments in the hands of the children of CBA members. We accept donations of playable instruments needing little repair/set up. The instruments are labeled and then are ready to be put into the hands of children. We have strings, cases, picks, instructional materials available as well. We have member luthiers who assist us with setup and small repairs.
Mandolin Café (www.mandolincafe.com) has twice held major events for the library and Mandolin Café is a sponsor of the CBA Youth Program. We welcome other sponsors or donors to step forward to help us get more instruments into the hands of more children.
Requirements for borrowing an instrument are few: parents must be a current CBA member and must arrange for pickup with our librarian. We encourage the child with the instrument to attend one of our festivals each year and check in with us to see if the instrument is still in good playing condition and is being used. Many families check out a number of instruments until they find the instrument their child wants to play.
Donations are always welcome and, of course, essential. Donations of instruments or accessories are tax deductible because of our 501(c)3 status. We will send a letter of acknowledgement but setting an estimated value of the donation is the responsibility of the donor.
Cash donations will be used towards buying instruments and accessories.
Our Lending Library librarian is Sharon Khadder. She can be contacted at [email protected]