Mary writes:

Ben has been recommended for the Governor’s School for the Arts. Through this program, he would spend 3 weeks on a college campus this summer, and be eligible for college scholarships. He would have to audition. The only glitch is that they want him to sight read. They said it wasn’t absolutely necessary, but preferable.

There’s a joke, which in banjo terms, goes, “How do you get a banjo player to quiet down?” “Put some sheet music in front of him.”

Bluegrass should be understood clearly to be a kind of music that is not normally transmitted by sight-readable writing. Rather, ear skills and an (even intuitive, non-verbal) understanding of basic music theory are what count a great deal. and these are present in all good bluegrass musicians. Many conventional music teachers don’t understand the difference that way between bluegrass and other varieties. Most music teachers would be totally baffled to hear a Flatt & Scruggs recording and to be told that no one in the band could or ever did read music. Bluegrass people need to be able to assert their different orientation without embarrassment. Most music teachers are not apt to understand, but playing a recorded example might impress them.

Best of luck to Ben in that program!

Pete