Clemson to offer bluegrass ensemble this fall

You can’t stop the bluegrass! It’s rampaging though the institutions.

Clemson University in South Carolina is the latest major educational institution to add a bluegrass offering in their music department. They have announced that their new Clemson Bluegrass Ensemble will begin during the Fall 2017 semester, with elective course credit given to music majors as well as students outside the program.

The course will incorporate instruction in the history of bluegrass music, and the instruments used to perform it, as well as a performance component.

The official course description is as follows:

“The ensemble will provide students the opportunity to improve musical skills through membership in a traditional bluegrass band. Under the guidance of the instructor and the leadership of a student music director, students will participate in song selection and creation of music arrangements.”

Ryan Wilson

It’s all the brainchild of Ryan Wilson, an audio engineering/music major at the school who works at the Clemson Performing Arts Center. Ryan is also a bluegrass boy, who plays bass with The Tyler Williams Band. He will serve as the Ensemble’s initial Musical Director.

Ryan says that the whole thing sort of happened organically…

“I started back at Clemson about a year and a half ago, studying audio engineering and music. After I was enrolled for a bit, they offered me a full time job at the Performing Arts Center.

Then I got to know Dr. Mark Hosler, who teaches a course in the history of country music, which incorporates some bluegrass. I mentioned to him that ETSU offered a full degree program for bluegrass and country, and we began to discuss the concept of including commercial music education at Clemson. He eventually asked if I would be interested in teaching the class.

I am so excited about this!”

Here’s hoping they have more students than they can handle in the Clemson Bluegrass Ensemble. It will appear in the course catalog as soon as registration opens for Fall ’17.

Well done Ryan, and well done Clemson!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.