UNC School of Music adds bluegrass concentration

University of Northern ColoradoThe School of Music at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley will begin offering a new Folk and Bluegrass Studies program starting in the Fall of 2017. This will be an instrumental concentration in the common bluegrass instruments for any UNC students in the music department. This includes undergraduate music degree programs for Education, Performance, Composition, Jazz Studies, Music Business, or Liberal Arts. Students in the Graduate Performance Certificate program may also follow this concentration.

The school has hired Natalie Padilla to teach fiddle, Jordan Ramsey for mandolin, Dusty Rider for banjo, Martin Gilmore for guitar, and Eric Thorin for bass.

Michael Alexander, Director of the UNC School of Music, says that they are pleased to welcome these new string players into the program.

“We are excited to expand access to our music school to musicians that have an interest in folk and bluegrass music. As a school of music, we seek to embrace all outstanding emerging artists, regardless of the genre of music that they produce, and look forward to the interactions that will occur between our current students and those that enter the folk and bluegrass program.”

We also contacted Annie Sklar, Enrollment Manager at the School of Music, who explained a bit more about how they envision the new program unfolding.

“Initially the curriculum will be performance-oriented, including lessons, ensembles, and repertoire study. We also plan to develop academic course content that focuses on the history and context of Folk and Bluegrass in the American musical landscape, but these courses may launch later than Fall 2017.

One of the core features of this program will be the creation of dedicated folk and bluegrass ensembles. Our hope is that not only will these be important educational opportunities for students to develop as players and musicians, but will also lead to professional performance opportunities in the Northern Colorado community and beyond.”

Applications for the Folk and Bluegrass studies program are being accepted now, with auditions scheduled for February 2017. More details and dates can be found on the School of Music’s web site.

Greeley is in the north central part of the state, between Denver and Ft. Collins. UNC has a particular focus on arts education, including theater, dance, and commercial art in addition to music, in a large, university residence community.

Kudos to the university for recognizing the importance of including bluegrass in their educational offerings. This could be a great opportunity for young grassers unable to travel east to study the music they love.

Won’t it be great when every major university feels obliged to offer such programs?

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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.