Youth and Peer Relationships in Vernacular Music and Dance Communities

Erica Braverman


A popular joke among Appalachian folk musicians is to welcome newcomers to the tradition by assuring them that their new musical interest will make them “tens of dollars!†This witticism appears to draw its humor from a purely financial perspective, but at a deeper level the joke dismisses an overweening focus on a small financial outcome at the expense of a much larger social reward. Indeed, many participants in various forms of vernacular music and dance stay involved with their chosen art form not for financial purposes, but because they enjoy the community of artists and have developed friendships among peers within this setting. But do young musicians and dancers easily find this sense of community in the world of vernacular performing arts?

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