“Want to get a lump in your throat? Answer a kid when he asks if we're going to have guitar lessons next week.” Jenny Edwards, Rockingham County Education Foundation
I’m sure anyone who’s ever been involved in the work of a non-profit knows the feeling of that lump as you await word on whether you will receive funding to continue whatever good work it is that you and your organization do. That’s what Jenny is talking about here, as our organization, Piedmont Folk Legacies, waits to hear back from grant applications that will fund our already popular P.I.C.K. (Piedmont Instrument Classes for Kids) program for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
For those who may not have yet heard of this wonderful program, P.I.C.K. was created as an after school program to provide third, fourth and fifth grade students with instrument classes in fiddle, banjo and guitar, instilling in them an appreciation for the unique musical heritage of our area. An initial class of 30 excited students at Leaksville-Spray Elementary School began their musical journey under the leadership of teachers Christen Blanton and Bret Hart. Funding, provided largely by the Reidsville Area Foundation and HomeTrust Bank provided quality instruments and teacher pay to give these kids a chance to learn they would not have otherwise received.
All was well until Covid-19 hit. Just three days away from their first ever public performance, to be held with the UNC-G Old Time Ensemble, the P.I.C.K. program and public schools came to a grinding halt in March of this year. Having to break the news of the cancellation to these precious children almost broke my heart. We had to find a way to help these kids continue on their path to mastering their instruments. Knowing that online was our only option for classes, we started working on a plan to make that happen.
Teaming up with Jenny Edwards, we were able to put together a plan for a 5 week summer session of P.I.C.K., with these resilient children picking back up where they left off, almost as if no time had passed. Due to other obligations, the initial teachers were unavailable, so new teachers, Katie Griffin and Kaleb Overby bravely signed on to teach what those familiar with Zoom meetings might think impossible – teaching instrument lessons via Zoom.
If only you all could have experienced these classes as these dedicated kids dealt with computer screens freezing, noisy distractions inherent in online classes, and technical issues of muting and unmuting – all with concentration and patience you wouldn’t think normal for this age group. I am so proud of them all and the progress they’ve made!
Jenny and her co-worker, Lori, at the Rockingham County Education Foundation, worked out the logistics and technical aspects of providing these lessons online, while I went to work contacting parents, encouraging the students, and starting the search for funding to continue. It takes a village, and we are so fortunate here in Rockingham County to have such a wonderful village! I can’t wait for the day when I can stand on stage and proudly announce to a LIVE audience – Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome, the musicians of P.I.C.K.!! You all are in for a treat!
Louise Wright Price, President
Piedmont Folk Legacies, Inc.
P,I.C.K. (Piedmont Instrument Classes for Kids)
Charlie Poole Music Festival