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Local man receives grant to teach folk skills to new apprentice


A Rowan County man has been given the opportunity to teach his skills building string instruments to an apprentice through a grant program with Kentucky Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Grants.

Luthier John Ryster lives in Rowan County and was awarded the $4,000 grant to teach his skills building and repairing stringed instruments to Izaac Daniels of Greenup County.

Ryster said these skills are important to have because although there is heavy demand for them in the area, very few can provide the services people need.

“There’s a market for it. Not a lot of people work on stuff anymore around here and there’s still a lot of people who play music. And so, it’s getting to be where you have to drive further and further to find somebody that can do that, and so it’s nice to have different people throughout eastern Kentucky, I think,” said Ryster.

Ryster said this apprenticeship is a good way to not only teach others but also to keep up with his own skills.

“If I try to improve, you know that’s what you’re supposed to do, so you take what you’ve learned and then you try to improve on it or at least find your own way to do it that works better for you,” said Ryster.

Ryster knows firsthand the importance of this grant, being an apprentice through it in 2019, when he studied under master luthier Tommy Case.

Ryster added that he was honored to have the ability to give back and perpetuate the passage of information that he greatly benefitted from, and he hopes these skills and techniques live on for years to come.