Mountain Music Museum offers free visits for children, expands scholarship shows

Holly Viers • May 3, 2019 at 8:00 PM

KINGSPORT — The Mountain Music Museum is working to expand its impact in the Model City and beyond.

Executive Director Rick Dollar announced some of the museum’s new initiatives at a Thursday afternoon press conference. Among other things, the museum will soon offer free visits for school-age children and is working to host more scholarship shows to benefit music students.

About the museum

In 1998, the Appalachian Cultural Music Association (ACMA) set out to educate the public about this region’s rich musical history. As a result, the Mountain Music Museum was born.

Today, the museum features exhibits on Tennessee Ernie Ford, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Flatt and Scruggs, Archie Campbell, the Carter Family and more. It also hosts the live Pickin’ Porch Show every Thursday night.

“Last year we engaged over 130,000 people online and coming through the door at the museum, and we’re very proud of those numbers. … We’d like to see that doubled if we could, in the next couple years,” Dollar said.

Free visits

The museum has launched a new program called Keep Kids Involved, which will grant free entry to all school-age children in the Tri-Cities area for the 2019-2020 school year. School groups can also take advantage of free field trips with advance scheduling.

Two educators will be on staff to help lead music exercises, such as making instruments from everyday items. The museum is currently seeking partners to offset the costs of these offerings.

“We could probably handle two field trips a day, depending on how far they have to come,” Dollar said. “We want to give them at least an hour in here and teach them some things about music.”

Scholarship shows

The museum is already well-known for its Leon Kiser and Reece Shipley scholarship shows. Proceeds from these shows help fund college scholarships for students in Appalachian studies and various music programs.

Dollar said the museum has already been partnering with ETSU for these scholarships. He’s currently working to start scholarships at two additional universities, with more to come.

“We’re hoping to spread to maybe more of a five-state area doing this for universities so that more kids can go to school, learn about Appalachian studies, learn about Appalachian-style music and do what we need to do for a new generation of people,” Dollar said.

Other initiatives

After about six months of work, the museum’s Pickin’ Porch Show will become a syndicated radio program in the coming weeks. Dobyns-Bennett High School’s radio station will be the first to pick up the show, Dollar said.

The museum will also begin hosting music lessons for students interested in learning fiddle, guitar, banjo, bass or classical violin. The lessons, which will be taught by J.P. Mathes II and Fiddling Leona, will be offered once a week on a one-on-one basis.

The museum is located at 316 Broad St. in downtown Kingsport. For more information or to schedule a visit, call (423) 765-2552 or (423) 341-0935 or email [email protected]

Kingsport Times News Videos