ETSU hires two new lecturers for bluegrass department

Adam Steffey and Will MacMorran - photo courtesy Daniel BonerEast Tennessee State University’s school of Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies has announced the hiring of two new lecturers for the program. Both bring specific credentials and experience to bear on their new positions, and have connections to the school and this program.

Adam Steffey is well known within the bluegrass community for his many years performing and recording with Alison Krauss & Union Station, Mountain Heart, and presently with The Boxcars. His playing has been the object of intense study by serious students of the mandolin and he has spent the last 6 years at ETSU serving as a private mandolin instructor.

As a student in this program in the 1980s Adam performed in the ETSU Senior Bluegrass Band, and played on the album they produced at the school. An offer for him to join Lonesome River Band in 1987 interrupted his college studies, something that he finally completed this year, graduating from ETSU with a bachelor of science degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Now on staff, Steffey looks forward to combining his musical expertise and his many years as a professional touring artist to help refine the curriculum to include real-world music business studies specific to bluegrass.

Adam properly views his own breadth of understanding of the business side as something valuable to his students.

“Through my own experiences, as well as by conducting in-class interviews with other professional musicians and industry leaders, I plan to give students a real-world look at making music their vocation. By giving our students a broad look into the business side of music, they will become better equipped for a future in music.”

Also joining the faculty this Fall semester is Will MacMorran, another recent ETSU grad who completed a masters in liberal studies with a focus in Appalachian Studies following his bachelors in audio engineering from the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University in Nashville.

Will’s specialty is Celtic music, and he will teach advanced-level guitar, bass, highland and Uilleann bagpipes, Irish button accordion, Irish tenor banjo, Irish flute and whistles, and bouzouki. The program is eager to expand its offerings for students of Celtic music, and will count on MacMarron’s studio knowledge as well.

His mother, Jane MacMorran, is Director of the Appalachian, Scottish, Irish Studies Program, which falls under Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music, and he is delighted to become a part of the program.

“It will be exciting to work with such a great group of faculty members and have the opportunity to share my experience and expertise with our program’s talented students. I am excited about the opportunity to build a high-quality Celtic music program at ETSU, work with students in country bands, and teach audio engineering courses in the Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies Recording Lab.”

Both Steffey and MacMorran will continue to tour on weekends, Adam with The Boxcars, and Will with Celtic rock group, Seven Nations.

Appalachian Studies Department Chair, Dr. Ron Roach, welcomes both of his new faculty members to the program.

Dr. Ron Roach“We were fortunate to have a number of excellent candidates for these positions and are thrilled to add these two superb musicians and teachers to our department’s faculty. Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies is the leading program in its field and a vital part of Appalachian studies at ETSU, attracting students from 22 states and three foreign countries. Will and Adam are outstanding additions to this program and will contribute a great deal to the department as we continue to move forward.”

And program Director, Daniel Boner, sees nothing but good things ahead at ETSU.

Daniel Boner“There is energy and momentum at ETSU. We auditioned 31 incoming students this week, and the vast majority demonstrated exceptional musical ability. It is important that we have a highly qualified and diverse faculty to meet the needs of our talented students who come from a variety of musical backgrounds. We are all very excited that Adam and Will are onboard full time to offer new ideas for growing our program.”

Students at ETSU have the option of a full major within the Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies program, or a minor while pursuing another degree. The majors obtain a bachelor of sciences degree in Appalachian Studies with a concentration in Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music.

Full program details are available online.

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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.