Scott Napier to head new bluegrass program at Owensboro Community & Technical College

Owensboro, KY is set to add another arrow in their quiver to become known the “bluegrass capitol of the world,” with the launching of a Bluegrass and Traditional Music program at the Owensboro Community and Technical College, located in the city center.

As Program Coordinator for this new effort, OCTC has brought on noted mandolinist and instructor Scott Napier, who both trained and taught in a similar program at the Hazard Technical and Community College in eastern Kentucky. HCTC is home to the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music, which offers both degree and certificate programs designed to train performers and recording engineers for work in the bluegrass business.

Located just a short distance from the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, the OCTC Bluegrass and Traditional Music program will be a part of the school’s Heritage, Humanities and Fine Arts Department, and will begin offering classes next month. OCTC operates on both an 8 week and 16 week course schedule, and some 8 week courses will begin in March. Initial classes this semester will include Individual String Instrument Instruction and Songwriting, both taught by Napier.

Dr. Meredith Skaggs, head of the Humanities and Fine Arts Department at OCTC, tells us that there will be two tracks for students entering this new program.

“The programs, pending formal recognition from our accrediting agency, will be a Certificate in Bluegrass Music and an Associate of Applied Science Degree: Professional Studio Artist. The degree program not only emphasizes the technical music skills, and history of the genre, but also course work in business and accounting.”

Plans are to offer a similar sort of opportunity as is available in Hazard for students in western Kentucky. As enrollment grows, Dr. Skaggs says that they anticipate bringing on additional faculty, but for now are delighted to have Napier at the helm.

“We are excited to have Scott’s experience from within KCTCS at HCTC leading the program development. We are also looking forward to collaborating with local partners to reimagine.”

Students interested in applying for admission to the new OCTC Bluegrass and Traditional Music program for either March or the fall semester are invited to start the process now.

Scott, and his wife, Lauren Price Napier of The Price Sisters, have found a new home in Owensboro and will be moving into the community soon.

Napier tells us while he expects most new students to begin classes after the summer break, he is ready to go.

“The true focus is to start in the fall semester. However, I plan to offer in-person and online streaming lessons right away.”

Scott Joslin, Director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, tells us that discussions about adding a college program like this has been in discussion around Owensboro for some time.

“I relocated here in 2015 for the Hall of Fame, and at that time, Scott Williams, President of OCTC, had asked me about doing this. He had been researching this possibility for a while, and asked what I thought about the feasibility. I told him how well this had worked at Morehead State, ETSU, and Hazard.

This program will be good for the Hall of Fame and all the bluegrass efforts on behalf of Owensboro.

Though I’m sure Napier won this position owing to his skills and experience, Joslin said he did recommend him for this job.

“I’ve gotten to know Scott Napier since being here, as a player and a collector; he has donated/loaned some instruments to the Museum – and I connected him to Scott Williams to start discussions.”

Joslin also mentioned the synergy he anticipates between the Hall of Fame, the new Kentucky Guitar Works, and ROMP with OCTC students. All three offer internship opportunities right there in Owensboro.

It all sounds like a great benefit for bluegrass students in western Kentucky.

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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.