Posted on Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Play Me Some Mountain Music!

Submitted by Amy Greear, community relations coordinator, Mountain Empire Community College

CAPTION: Students of all ages and abilities learned to play traditional old-time tunes at MECC’s Mountain Music School.


The last week of July, Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) held its 13th annual Mountain Music School (MMS), a weeklong event dedicated to the preservation of the heritage music and culture of Southwest Virginia.

Although the program focuses on local youth, MMS welcomes students of all ages to learn to play old-time music on various instruments in the traditional manner of master musicians passing the music down to younger generations.   

Beginning through advanced classes and workshops are offered on autoharp, banjo, bass, dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, mandolin and singing. More advanced students can participate in an old-time string band class. 

This year’s Mountain Music School included more than 200 students ranging in age from six to 86. While more than 67% of the students were from Mountain Empire’s service region in southwest Virginia, students also hailed from Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and other parts of Virginia, as well as an international student from Scotland. 

MECC is the only community college in Virginia that offers a Career Studies Certificate program in old time music. The program, established in 2011, focuses on the cultural heritage music and dance of the central Appalachian region. Two graduates are now teaching old-time music. MECC offers classes in dance, instrument performance, shape note singing, old time string band, Appalachian music history, festival/event management, audio recording and Appalachian studies.

For more information about the Mountain Music School, visit'

Laura Osberger

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