Family Fun

If you’re coming to Shady Grove Bluegrass Festival, then you’re already a lover of Bluegrass music – country music in high gear! This is a wonderful opportunity for families and youth to get involved in a family friendly environment where they can enjoy the concerts of professional top class bluegrass performers, but also where they will get the opportunity to ‘hone their craft’ by playing alongside seasoned musicians in the Bluegrass genre. There’s a great old adage that says, “Tell me I forget, show me I remember, but ‘involve’ me and I understand.”

This year, our 30th anniversary, we will have open mics, Bluegrass Karaoke, jam sessions and youth showcases. No pressure at this festival – our young people can simply watch and learn, listen and be entertained, or participate in the workshops and jam sessions. It’s a well-known fact that the best way to learn an instrument, especially a bluegrass instrument, is to play along with other musicians. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as the feeling of being able to play along with other musicians.

The three stages of learning to play a bluegrass instrument are:



First Listen – the music is infectious and it creates a yearning to want to play the music

Second Watch – see close up and personal how the musicians create this magical music. Watch how they hold their instruments, their finger picking techniques, their mastery of the fretboard, etc.

Third Play Along – once you feel comfortable (or ready to break out of your comfort zone), nothing will accelerate your learning like playing along with other musicians.


This is how the traditional and old-timey music was passed down from one generation to the next through the ages. It doesn’t matter what level of proficiency you’re at – beginner, intermediate or advanced – there are opportunities at Shady Grove to learn and play along at every level.

Then the ultimate reward of your hard work at the workshops and jam sessions is the opportunity to perform on stage to a live audience. This is the moment to shine – show them what you’ve got!! Whether it’s singing harmony, or playing your instrument, the most gratifying moment for any musician is to play music live and feel the appreciation of a live audience.

And besides all of these wonderful opportunities to learn and play along with fellow musicians, there will be lots of other youth-centred activities like treasure hunts, games and other activities to keep them engaged and excited about their trip to Shady Grove Bluegrass Festival. The unprecedented amount of emerging young musicians on the Bluegrass music scene worldwide is simply astounding. In Ireland, England, Europe, Netherlands, Japan, Australia, the USA and Canada we are seeing droves of young people coming to Bluegrass festivals. The standard of musicianship amongst these emerging young artists has never been higher. So make this Shady Grove Bluegrass Festival a true ‘family affair’ and let your kids get a taste for this infectious high energy Bluegrass music.