27.5.15

Summer Fun for the Family: Pickin’ and Grinnin’ at the Earl Scruggs Center



  by Sally Matheny
photo courtesy of Wikipedia
If you've ever watched The Beverly Hillbillies, you may remember musicians Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt. Occasionally, they sauntered through the Clampetts’ mansion door pickin’ and grinnin’. 

If you missed their appearances, you didn’t miss out on their music. Scruggs and Flat performed the theme song for the show.

You can share the history of the toe-tapping, bluegrass music with your children by visiting a wonderful museum in western North Carolina. The Earl Scruggs Center, which opened in January 2014,  is located on Lafayette Street in Shelby, North Carolina.


My local homeschool group visited the museum, housed in the former 1907 Cleveland County Courthouse. An array of activities provided opportunities for learning the history, music, and cultural traditions of Western North Carolina. 

Presented with complimentary ear buds upon arrival, each visitor is encouraged to plug in and participate throughout the museum. Receiving a set of ear buds, to keep as their own, brought immediate delight from the children. 

At the museum, you’ll learn about the legendary banjo player, Earl Scruggs, known for popularizing the three-finger playing style. 

Through live demonstrations, short films, and exhibits you’ll discover how Scruggs continually stretched music boundaries by learning new techniques to grow with the changing times.

The Common Threads Table
The museum definitely pushes the edge with fascinating technology. One of the most popular, interactive exhibits is the Common Threads table. Touch screens, the size of your dinner table, make different instruments, various music styles, and musicians come to life. The students in our group found the hands-on learning extremely fun!

Another exhibit allows participants to adjust the speed of a banjo picking visual so they can actually see the placement of each finger and the sound it produces. Very cool.

In addition to the evolution of banjos and playing styles, the Earl Scruggs Center also houses exhibits on other aspects of N.C. history, such as the cotton industry, cooking, and the advancements of technology. 

I want to go back and read all the interesting tidbits I missed. Excited children don't linger long enough, always eager to move on to the next exhibit.

Earl Scruggs recorded some Christian bluegrass at one time. I'm curious to see if there is anything posted about how his faith influenced his music.

All ages will find things of interest at the Earl Scruggs Center. The exhibits are best suited for children over age five. However, those under five get in free. 

Special events occur at the center on a regular basis—from southern cooking demonstrations to outdoor performances. You can find out what’s taking place as well as the hours and prices on the website: www.earlscruggscenter.org



That's me with my fifth cousin, Earl Scruggs.

Allow plenty of time for your visit. We went with a group of sixty people and stayed about three hours. We still didn’t feel like we explored it fully and look forward to returning.

Pull the kids off the sofa. They may not be guitarists or banjo-pickers, but I'm confident they'll leave the Earl Scruggs Center grinning.








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