Pickens H.S. Hits High Note With Bluegrass Band - WSPA.com

Pickens H.S. Hits High Note With Bluegrass Band

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The bluegrass class at Pickens High School teaches students how to play and perform as a band. The bluegrass class at Pickens High School teaches students how to play and perform as a band.
PICKENS, S.C. -

There are 17 students in Don Noonan’s bluegrass class at Pickens High School.

“When you get a good harmony going, it is just amazing,” says sophomore Ethan Eades.

Pickens High is the only school in the state teaching kids how to play the unique genre of music that is believed to have originated in the early 1600s

The class is split into two groups – beginners and advanced.

The advanced students are members of the school’s up and coming Blue Flame Bluegrass Band, which now performs all across the state. The students even get paid for certain events.

“All of these opportunities we are getting to do have really changed the way people look at bluegrass,” says band member Danielle Yother.

Bluegrass has a fast-growing loyal fan base.

Noonan says the music is written about daily life and is very relatable.

Still he wants his students to learn how to put their own ‘spin’ on songs.

“Some of them do read music, but for the most part it is all done by ear."

Many of the students in Noonan’s class picked up their first stringed instrument a couple years ago through a local program called the Young Appalachian Musicians or YAMS, but it is not offered to high school students.

“So I went to our principal and said, we need to accommodate these kids, because music is music.”

Noonan is no longer just a teacher. He’s a coach, leader, even a manager. And his students are passionate, focused musicians who are carrying on an old tradition in a new age.

Emily Pace
Emily is a general assignment reporter covering Buncombe, Polk, Rutherford and Henderson Counties.
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