This weekend I’m teaching the Kids Academy at an indoor Bluegrass festival in the northeast, and there’s teaching and learning happening all over the place.

Yesterday, backstage in the green room, two of the Main Stage performers started talking, which led to jamming. These are both extremely high level players and within a few minutes had amassed a small audience of other performers, festival staff, and people like myself teaching in the Kids Academy. There’s a sense in these circles that when something like this happens you should probably be listening.

Though the impromptu performance started as a jam between two friends it quickly became clear that this was really elders passing on the culture to the younger generation. Within 20 or so minutes there had been demonstrations, stories told, instruments passed around, and a few high level but less experienced musicians had a chance to jump in and hold their own. None of this was explicitly planned and there was no clear beginning or end to the education but this sort of thing happens all the time.

Whether intentional or not we have an opportunity to learn from the most experienced among us if we’re willing to really listen. We don’t have to ask them what strings or picks they use in order to learn what it is that makes them a great musician and ambassador to the culture. It’s what they did when they were younger and they learned from earlier masters how to pass it on to us. As always our task is to be ever present and really show up to the moments when mastery is happening in front of us.

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