About Us

We invite you to join us in June for the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School!

THE LAST WEEK OF JUNE (19-23, 2017) we will gather again on Cowan Creek for a week of learning and community.

It’s a small but close-knit group that gathers here each year—some of the country’s finest old-time musicians, and students of all ages and levels – to celebrate our rich mountain heritage of lively tunes, heart-felt singing, spirited square dancing and storytelling.

Whether you’re an absolute beginner or accomplished musician, eight years old or eighty, you’ll have the opportunity to dig deep into the rich repertoire of Kentucky music and gain experience playing with other musicians.

Mountain music has been passed down through the generations as young learners listened to and played along with their older family members and neighbors. In keeping with this tradition, Cowan is a school for all ages, with classes taught in call and response, rather than written music, improving both your ear for music, and your ability to join other musicians from the get-go!

It’s a jam-packed week, five full days of music. Each afternoon, we’ll be joined by masters of traditional music: Virginia fiddler Betty Vornbrock, Letcher County’s own banjo treasure Lee Sexton and our 2017 Master in Residence, Bruce Greene, a champion of Kentucky’s old style fiddlers and their tunes. In the afternoon, students can choose between jam sessions for all levels, a youth and a singer’s circle. There will be a wide variety of afternoon workshops including beginning flat foot dancing, a kids field trip to a farm sponsored by Grow Appalachia, singing at the Big Cowan Old Regular Baptist Church, an appreciation of Kentucky’s African-American fiddlers by John Harrod and Nikos Pappas, fiddle or ukulele from scratch and more! And don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawn into the magic of our Roving Storyteller Randy Wilson. Each evening students, instructors and neighbors will gather for a square dance, community theater performance or faculty concert.

So, take a look round this website for information about classes, scholarships, and how to sign up! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.  Also a tip for using this website:  If you click on a tab, you will get the first page for that tab. But there may be much more!  Rest your pointer on the tab and you will see a drop down menu of more pages for some of the topics. Move your pointer down to the page you are interested in and double click on it. It may take a couple of tries.  And please let us know if there’s something you can’t find. Thanks! 

— Carol Ison, Kevin Howard, Stacy Dollarhide, and the rest of the folks at the CCMMS

The Cowan Elementary School, Cowan Community Center and Appalshop are wheelchair accessible.  The Cowan Creek Mountain Music School is a family event; no alcohol, drugs, profanity or frowns are permitted.

2017 Registration Form

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