Acoustic Ki♪s

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What We’re About:

Conference... Andy and Gweneth Aggeler.

  • Mentoring young musicians
  • Providing a positive performance experience in a professional setting
  • Recognizing achievement
  • Entertaining festival audiences
  • Building community

“Andy has a remarkable ability to make kids feel welcomed and valued as a person and (a) musical contributor…. I’m so glad Acoustic Kids has stayed involved in the community, because not only does it give all these kids good memories, but as the kids grow up they’ll remember that their contribution is important.” – Sara Watkins, multi-year participant with Nickel Creek in the Walnut Valley Festival Acoustic Kids Showcases


What We Do:

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Work with festivals to give young musicians in their audiences opportunities to play on official festival stages

Acoustic Kids Workshop - MerleFest, 2011 (30)

Acoustic Kids is a festival-based program that has become a tradition at some iconic music festivals: It has been a part of the Walnut Valley Festival (Winfield, KS) since 1991, MerleFest (Wilkesboro, NC) since 2001, and Guitar Town (Copper Mountain, CO) since 2015. These festivals strive to support the next generation of musicians, and Acoustic Kids helps them fulfill that mission. Andy and his wife, Lauren, work closely with festival staff to customize the program to reflect each festival’s personality, and they handle all the showcase organization.

Organize everything before the festival starts

  • Provide pre-festival online registration for participants
  • Review all performance demos submitted with registrations
  • Plan showcases down to the minute based on the demos we receive
  • Work with parents and music teachers to make sure all participants know what is expected of them and are prepared

Acknowledge young musicians’ achievements, whatever their skill level

We welcome young musicians of all skill levels, beginner to pro. We acknowledge the dedication it took to learn all that they have so far learned and applaud their courage in getting up on stage and sharing it. We love to watch beginners grow from year to year and more advanced players take off and soar.

Structure our showcases to allow all participants to shine

2015 Walnut Valley Fest Acoustic Kids - SaturdayAndy carefully plans all Acoustic Kids Showcases so that no one is upstaged by the act that was on before them. We use our online registration process to help achieve this. Well before the festival, we know who will be playing what and what the performance order will be. Participants know what they will be playing and have time to polish their performance.

Foster growth, community, and professionalism

2015 Walnut Valley Fest Acoustic Kids - Saturday

  • Beginning musicians meet and are inspired by more advanced young players
  • Everyone does their part to pull off the show, including dealing with festival realities (weather, tight schedules, distractions, etc.)
  • Many, if not most, participants come back year after year with the goal of improving over last year
  • Audience members come back year after year to see – and applaud – what the kids have achieved since last year
Andy May's Acoustic Kids ShowcasesAndy May's Acoustic Kids Showcases2015 MerleFest Acoustic Kids2015 Walnut Valley Fest Acoustic Kids - Friday

[Acoustic Kids] Showcases have inspired in me the confidence that comes from playing in front of thousands of people and having a successful experience. I can’t overstate how grateful …I am! Andy and Lauren run an extremely tight ship without taking any of the fun out of it.” – Liam Purcell, founding member of Cane Mill Road and multi-year Acoustic Kids participant and Ambassador at MerleFest


What We Aren’t:

2015 Walnut Valley Fest Acoustic Kids - Friday

  • A competition
  • An open mic event
  • A traveling show
  • A band
  • A club
  • A jam
  • Instrument instruction

You never know who you’ll hear for the first time in Acoustic Kids….


1995 Nickel Creek in Acoustic Kids-Walnut Valley Festival

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