Students' Experiences in PineCone Bluegrass Camps for Youth


The Lang Sisters, Jessica & Chloe

By Jessica & Chloe Lang

We love going to bluegrass music camps to learn more about this genre of music and its history, and to improve our level of play on our instruments. Both of us feel that the PineCone Bluegrass Music Camps have taught us many things and are really fun to attend. We recommend it to youth who would like to learn more about the bluegrass genre, meet other kids with similar interests and have lots of fun while learning.

Together we went to our first year of PineCone in 2012. We took intermediate guitar with Charles Pettee and had a wonderful time. We learned a challenging medley of “Cluck Old Hen” and “Old Joe Clark,” and at the end of the camp, we performed it with the guitar class at the Friday evening concert. Kickin Grass band followed our performance and gave a fantastic concert. Little did I realize that I would get to study with Lynda Dawson of that group just a few years later in a songwriting class.

In 2014, I (Jessie) attended the PineCone camp and took intermediate songwriting with Lynda Dawson and intermediate mandolin with Charles Pettee. (Unfortunately, Chloe couldn’t join me because of another commitment).

In songwriting class, we learned the fundamentals of songwriting and how to get ideas for a new song. Since we were in the intermediate class, each morning we would go around the circle, play original songs and critique our work. We really learned how to open up our minds to any ideas we had and how to put them in a song. Mrs. Dawson is a great teacher and showed us exercises that could help us in our songwriting skills. We all wrote a song together and had lots of fun. I have learned how artists come up with such great songs, and look forward to using my skills to write more in the future.  I can’t wait to see what we will come up with this summer!

It was an absolute blast to be in a mandolin class with Charles Pettee, let me tell you! Every day we would listen to him play and he would give a history lesson about a bluegrass song or legend such as Bill Monroe. (An entertaining one where you wouldn’t fall asleep, of course!) Mr. Pettee would then give us sheet music and play us the song we would learn that day, and then help us individually with any problems with mandolin we were having. I learned many songs from him and have grown in my mandolin playing ever since.

Every year at the end of PineCone camp, we perform with our classmates at the big Friday night concert. Last summer my songwriting class performed our original song “Snowy Cabin Home” and my mandolin class performed “I’ll Fly Away” and a fun version of Dueling Mandos. Last year the Church Sisters followed our performance and were very inspiring.  I made many friends last year and look forward to this year’s camp!

To wrap it up, we both agree that PineCone camps are an amazing experience and we would do it again in a heartbeat! You learn more about bluegrass music, your instrument of choice and make new friends. You grow in performing and music, and we have used many of the skills that PineCone camp gave us in our performances as The Lang Sisters. We recommend PineCone summer camp to youth who would like to learn more about songwriting or playing an instrument. We know that if we continue to pass on this special music generation to generation, we can keep it alive!
Chloe and Jessica Lang perform as The Lang Sisters - they’ll be opening for The Snyder Family Band to kick off this year’s Midtown Bluegrass Series, which will start in April this year!

PineCone thanks Chloe and Jessica for sharing their experience in the PineCone Bluegrass Camps. Space is still available in the 2015 camps, which will run from June 22-26 this year. Space is also available in the NEW PineCone Bluegrass Jam Camp, which will run Aug. 10-14 at Page Walker Arts and History Center in Cary. The jam camp aims to provide an opportunity for intermediate and above students (ages 12-17) to take their music to the next level! Learn more about PineCone's Bluegrass Camps for Youth