Ted Lehmann writes on Bluegrass Professionalism:
Bluegrass musicians are deeply ambivalent about professionalism. Perhaps they worry that becoming “professional” means losing the intrinsic spontaneous improvisational center of our music. Or they’re concerned that becoming part of a professional organization will serve to control their freedom. Or they just don’t see how a professional organization can benefit their advance as musicians or bands.
At the heart of bluegrass music lies the idea that we are one of the few, perhaps the only, music genres in which the fans are also widely seen as practitioners. Large numbers of bluegrass fans come to festivals, attend monthly meetings of their local bluegrass associations, or get together in music shops or restaurants to jam together on a regular basis. The skill level of these bluegrass jammers ranges from just beginning to pick to highly accomplished practitioners, some of whom have spent significant portions of their musical lives as touring musicians. The lore and etiquette of the jam permits this range, encouraging beginners and novices to sit around the fringes of a jam circle keeping time on their instruments, while more skilled pickers gravitate to or are invited into the center, where they carry the bulk of the musical load. For many bluegrassers, making the music is more important than listening to it. Many people maintain it’s at such events that the heart of bluegrass music is maintained and strengthened…