Grass Seeds Academy is one of the many things I love about spring.
Every year on the first weekend of March, The High 48s (my band) teach this weekend-long bluegrass (and old-time) workshop for kids at the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association’s Winter Weekend festival.
The focus of this workshop is on group playing, whether it’s in an informal jam at a bluegrass festival campground or onstage. Our goal is to give students the skills and confidence they need to take their music beyond the practice room.
Over the years, alumni of Grass Seeds have gone on to start their own bands, and some have gone on to make music their profession, even gracing the stage of A Prairie Home Companion.
After giving instruction on the individual bluegrass instruments (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bass and vocals), we turn the students loose to form their own bands. Over the weekend, the kids will work together, with our help, to put together a song that they’ll perform on the main stage at the conclusion of the festival.
We teach the kids how to arrange a song, how to sing vocal harmonies, and how to take a solo, how to play back-up while their friends are soloing. We also teach the art of putting on a show, including how to banter between songs and work the microphone.
In short, we teach them how to play well (musically and otherwise) with others. And we consider that a life skill, one that’s invaluable whether a student has professional ambitions or not.
This year we’ll be joined by mandolinist and guitarist extraordinaire Chris Silver and contest fiddle champion Hannah Kalisch.
The workshop is open to students between the ages of 8 and 18 and will be held on March 3-5 at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West in Plymouth, Minnesota. Students of all skill levels are encouraged to register — all we ask is that they’re are willing to learn and have fun.
For more information go to: