Mountain Music School is a unique educational program that offers opportunities for students age ten and older to experience traditional Appalachian old-time music in a fun, enriching, and supportive environment. Launched in 2004, the school was created to address a growing concern that traditional mountain music was not being passed down to the youth of Southwest Virginia. Today, the school has grown to include more than 200 students of all ages, many of whom travel from throughout the country to participate.
Each year during the last week in July, students gather on the campus of Mountain Empire Community College to explore the unique music, dance, and culture of our region. Students can choose basic or advanced instruction in an instrument of their choice, including fiddle, claw hammer banjo, folk guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, autoharp or string band. The school provides instruments for loan if needed. Classes are taught by talented, encouraging instructors who are masters at their craft. The week’s learning culminates in a jam session highlighting the musical accomplishments of our students.
2023 Student Schedule
Mountain Music School will be held, July 24-28, 2023.from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The student schedule is as follows:
9 a.m. to noon — Class Instruction
Noon to 1 p.m. — Lunch
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. — Class Instruction
Tyler Hughes began studying Old Time banjo at age 12 and today plays all across the southeast, preserving and promoting the traditional music of the Appalachians. Hughes first began his involvement with Mountain Music School over five years ago as a student. He now serves as the lead instructor for the Mountain Music School string band class and the co- director of the Mountain Music School Student String Band, a featured performer at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion and the Home Craft Days Festival. Hughes currently lives in Johnson City, TN, where he is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies at East Tennessee State University. He performs with several bands including ETSU’s Old Time Pride Band, Empty Bottle String Band, and more locally with The Generation Gap.
Todd Meade has served as an adjunct music instructor at Mountain Empire Community College and is a regular instructor of Mountain Music School’s beginning fiddle class. A native of Twin Springs, Meade has played fiddle and upright bass for a number of bands, including the Twin Springs Bluegrass Band, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, and the Carolina Road Bluegrass Band. He was nominated for Bass Player of the Year in 2007.
Larry Mullins has served as an instructor of beginning guitar at Mountain Music School for eight years. He teaches guitar in the Wise Jams program and has been a featured artist at Mountain Empire Community College’s Home Craft Days Festival, the Doc Boggs Festival, Heartwood Center, and many more.
Rhody Jane Meadows
Singer, songwriter, storyteller and musician Rhody Jane Meadows is a native of Big Stone Gap, VA and currently resides in Roan Mountain, TN. Meadows, a former public school teacher, holds a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina and a M.A. in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University. She currently serves as an instructor of arts at Lees McRae College.
Cathy Qualls has served as a beginning guitar instructor at Mountain Music School for several years. Cathy is a music instructor at Union Primary School for the last 40 years and has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Mountain Empire Community College, teaching shape note singing and beginning piano. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music K-12 from Emory and Henry College, and sings with a local gospel group “The Tender Chords.”
Alyssa is a new instructor for MMS 2021 for our vocal class. She is the general music teacher at Norton Elementary.
Laura, an art teacher from Union Primary School will be joining our MMS Faculty this year to assist Cathy Qualls in the Building and Playing a Ukulele class. Laura will guide students in decorating and painting their own unique ukuleles.