Kids’ Academy

An exciting trend at bluegrass festivals in recent years has been the rise of “kids’ academies” – programs designed to give young pickers an intensive but fun experience with other kids who share their interest in the music.

The Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival Kids’ Academy will be open to all kids ages 6 to 18 for fiddle (or viola), mandolin, guitar, banjo, resonator guitar, and bass (or cello).

We welcome back Sarah Larsen, teacher, award-winning contest fiddler having taken Grand Champion of the Lyons Fiddle Festival, and the Delaware State Championship, as our director in 2024. ​The Kids’ Academy will consist of five sessions that are each two hours long. Look for the area marked Kids’ Academy or ask at the Brandywine Friends booth for the location.

Beginners and more experienced players are welcome.Parents, please use judgment for very young beginners as to whether they are emotionally ready for this format of teaching. There is a registration fee of $35 per student, check payable to Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival, cash, or credit card. This will be collected in the instruction area on Friday evening.   Water will be provided. A free t-shirt is available to students who are enrolled online at least one week prior to the festival.  Others can be purchased from the shirt vendor at the festival.

Families that wish to apply for a scholarship with the Mandell Foundation can follow the link to the scholarships page and application – click “apply”.  Applications must be received in time to be processed and the academy notified directly by the foundation two weeks prior to the festival, so please allow plenty of time.  Scholarships not approved in advance of the festival will not be accepted.  or learn more on Facebook

Students will need to bring:

  • their own working instruments.
  • snacks/drinks
  • every guitar, banjo, and mandolin player will need to bring a strap.
  • guitar and banjo players will need capos.
  • extra strings for emergencies.
  • tuners for students who can tune themselves are helpful but not required.

Friday evening

  • Meet and greet
  • Assess playing level
  • Form groups
  • Run through song list

Saturday morning

  • Sectional instruction


  • Ensemble instruction

Saturday afternoon

  • Sectional instruction


  • Ensemble instruction

Sunday morning

  • Ensemble practice and main stage performance