Pennsylvania Coal, History and Instrument Participation

CHILDRENS PROGRAM - K through 3rd grade

Very interactive program with audience singing, children performing on mandolin and fiddle (preceded by the instruments origin), the "origin of" and the teaching of a very simple clog-dancing step, as well as some coal mining stories such as the invention of the first roller-coaster from a coal train called the "Switchback" in Jim Thorpe, PA.

STUDENT PROGRAM - 4th through 8th

Childrens Program PLUS more indepth focus on coal and instrument construction...clog dance instruction included.

STUDENT PROGRAM - 9th through 12th and Colleges

An elevated version of the preceding program with different banjo styles demonstrated and explained. Involves student clog dancing.


Program Fees

Two 45 to 60 minute assemblies plus two 45 to 60 minute workshops. (Workshops intended for grades 4th through 7th grade) - Fees Negotiated

Includes ALL expenses plus sound equipment if needed.

School Shows

Jay Smar captures the imagination and inspires the musical ability of students in grades K through 12. His little-known facts about Pennsylvania and American history and resonating renditions of classical folks songs enlighten and delight students everywhere.

Jay Smar brings enthusiasm and experience to his work. A professional entertainer for more than 20 years, Jay plays guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo. He explains the history of each instrument as well as the similarities and differences. Jay demonstrates each one, then invites volunteers to try their hand on the mandolin or fiddle. Students love the opportunity to hold a fine instrument, and their peers enjoy the fun as teacher and student work together. The programs are interactive and creative, engaging students with age-appropriate activities.

Younger audiences, for example, especially enjoy sing-alongs. The songs are usually linked to an instrument. Stephen Foster's "Oh Susannah" is a popular favorite. Jay tells the story of the  song's origin, followed by it's early construction.

Then everyone joins in with new knowledge of the banjo and one of America's great songwriters. Students may be encouraged to write songs, singing original lyrics to a traditional folk song tune such as "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain". There is a special emphasis on local Pennsylvania history in Jay's programs. A native of the Jim Thorpe area, his stories and songs explore the impact of coal mining on the Keystone State, the world's first "gravity" railroad, the invention of the roller coaster and folklore related to other areas. Programs can be designed for specific groups of students, youth organizations, fairs, festivals and other special events.

History, music, poetry blend in workshops, residencies

Jay Smar blends history, music and poetry in his dynamic workshops. Jay can also create a residency program to meet the needs of varied schools, curricula and youth organizations. Work shops and residencies are recommended for students in grade 2-12.

An accomplished songwriter, Jay has three albums to his credit. He explains in detail how he researches historical facts about Pennsylvania in a number of libraries throughout the coal region. He explains how his research becomes poetry, and then puts it to music. Students select an historical figure they are familiar with and begin the process of writing their own song by listing historical facts. The group works with different styles of rhyming to compose a poem, put to the tune of a folk song of their choice. A residency or workshop can be tailored for your school's specific needs, and may last from one class period to one or two weeks.