Bluegrass Academy for Kids

Sponsored by Bluegrass Unlimited. Supported by the D’Addario Foundation

July 19-22, 2018

About the Academy: The Grey Fox Bluegrass Academy for Kids (BGA), established in 1999, is a free four-day program held during Grey Fox. Kids from 8 to 17 learn to play, sing and perform bluegrass music. Each day consists of sectional classes with instrumental teachers; ensemble sessions with the entire group; harmony singing lessons; and guest appearances by musicians who are performing at Grey Fox. The grand finale is a ‘Graduation Gig’ Sunday afternoon on the High Meadow Stage. Approximately 100 kids participate each year. They have fun, learn a lot, grow in confidence and make friends that can last a lifetime.

Y’All Come
Shenandoah Breakdown
Think of What You’ve Done
(Link above goes to videos)

BGA class after their Sunday Gig at Grey Fox. Photo by Dave Weiland

National & International Recognition

BGA has been featured in Bluegrass Unlimited, the IBMA newsletter, bluegrass association publications and Voice of America Radio. Grey Fox is committed to keeping traditional bluegrass alive by passing it on to the upcoming generation. Several bluegrass festivals now have learning programs based on the Grey Fox model.  Above all, we are happy to be connecting kids with bluegrass music.

BGA Staff

BGA Director, guitarist and dobro player, Mark Panfil, is a lifelong music educator from Western New York; a founding member of the Buffalo-based Creek Bend Bluegrass Band; Chairman of the Foundation for Bluegrass Music (Nashville, TN); and a long-time dobro instructor for Augusta Bluegrass Week at Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, WV.

BGA instructors include: FIDDLE: Ellen Carlson, Cathy Goode, Lew Gelfond, tba, and tba; BANJO: Ira Gitlin; BASS: Louis Kaplan; GUITAR: Mark Panfil, Chris Panfil, and others; MANDOLIN: Ben Pearce, and CELLO: Juliet McFadden. STAFF MUSICIANS: Alex Sens (mandolin, dobro) and Neel Brown (guitar, bass). Our SENIORS PROGRAM is led by Tony Watt and Laura Orshaw.


We offer instruction in banjo, bass, cello, dobro, fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, in classes of approximately ten students each. While singing is part of the program every day, we do not offer classes just for vocalists.

BGA Seniors Program (Selection Process Guidelines)

To ensure that the BGA Seniors Program has the right mix of instruments and is a reasonable size, we are limiting participation based on a number of factors including instrumentation, experience, leadership, and prior participation. Students who wish to participate in the BGA Seniors are required to complete a short questionnaire with the help of their parents.

The questionnaire is due by June 15, and students will be notified regarding their placement by June 30. Students who are not selected for Seniors are strongly encouraged to participate in the greater Kids Academy. Preference in future years will be given to students who have shown leadership in the greater Kids Academy.

If Seniors BGA sounds like a good match for your child, please complete the registration form. We will then send you a short questionnaire to complete which will be used to select this year’s class.

Please feel free to email Tony Watt with any questions about the Seniors program.


BGA Schedule

4:00-5:00 pm On-site registration open.
6:00-7:00 pm Sign in, get name badge, tune up, be in seats by 7:00.
7:00-7:15 pm General orientation for all students. Bring your instruments! You will be playing the first night!
7:20-8:00 pm Student assessment by instructors. Class placement.
8:00-8:45 pm Traditional Dance with caller, Joyce Rossbach and music by your BGA instructors. Great ice-breaker for kids and parents.

10:00-Noon Harmony Singing, Sectional Practice & Ensemble Playing
Noon-1:30pm Lunch Break (with your family)
1:30-2:00pm Special Guest Performance
2:00-3:30pm Harmony Singing, Sectional Practice & Ensemble Playing

10:00-Noon Harmony Singing, Sectional Practice & Ensemble Playing
Noon-1:30pm Lunch Break (with your family)
1:30-2:00pm Special Guest Performance
2:00-3:30pm Harmony Singing, Sectional Practice & Ensemble Playing

10:30am Rehearse, Lineup, Certificates, etc.
Noon Lunch with your family. Go See the Taste of Grey Fox!
1:00pm Meet backstage at the High Meadow Stage lookin’ spiffy. Get tuned up and ready to roll! Parents welcome backstage.
1:15pm The Big Gig on the High Meadow Stage. Good luck!
1:45pm Class photo. We hope to see you next year!

Stop by and see the program in action. You’ll be impressed, we’re sure!

Program Requirements

Before enrolling, please make sure your child can commit to the following:

  1. Attend classes all four days, beginning with orientation on Thursday night and ending with Sunday afternoon’s performance.
  2. Bring his or her instrument to all sessions, including orientation.
  3. Has basic knowledge of his/her instrument. For instance, fiddle students should be able to play an A scale and play a simple tune such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Guitar students should be able to play A, D and E chords and change comfortably between chords.


  1. BGA is designed for kids age 8 and up. However, if your child has not yet turned 8 but has been taking lessons, plays an instrument with basic proficiency AND has an adequate attention span, we will consider accepting him or her if room allows.
  2. We recommend that students bring a tuner to classes with them, either an electronic tuner, tuning fork, or pitch pipe.
  3. Guitar, dobro and banjo students should also bring a capo suitable for their instrument.

Registering Your Child

  1. Registration begins on April 1 each year.
  2. There is no charge to participate in the academy. However, tax deductible donations are accepted and very much appreciated. BGA is part of our 501(c)3 educational designation.
  3. Kids 13 and up need to purchase a ticket to attend the festival! Please visit our TICKET PAGE to purchase tickets. Kids 12 and under are admitted free to Grey Fox with a ticketed parent or guardian.
  4. To register your child for BGA, click the registration link at the top of this page, fill in all questions and click “submit” ONCE.
  5. Many of you will want to know what the BGA tunes will be this year. Please check back here in May for links to the songs.
  6. Remember, BGA Seniors applicants will receive a questionnaire due by June 15. Class will be selected by June 30. Scroll up to review  Seniors Program description.

Thank you!

If you have any questions, please email Mary Burdette or call 603-677-2178.