Johnson City

Successful music program continues to grow

ETSU bluegrass bands

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - As with any educational music program, there is usually an end of-the-year project to have a show to highlight what has been learned.

But the success of the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass and Old-time Music program brings its first-ever mid-semester show featuring eight of their many bands.

As you listen to this year's edition of the ETSU Pride Band you remember that during the beginnings of the bluegrass and old-time music program, it was their only band performing; that's not the case any more. "We have 42 bands this semester and when you have so many groups you've got to find ways to see that they all get do what the music is all about. That's performing. This mid-semester concert is going to feature about eight groups," program director Daniel Boner said.

Just pick a branch of the country music tree and it's represented, even though each class is all about all aspects of the music business. "I think we're trying to have a well-rounded knowledgeable students in lots of different areas, and I think the curriculum really supports that," instructor Jane MacMorran says.

"Jack Tottle was brilliant in the way that he kept the tradition going. When he designed the curriculum originally he said, 'we're going to do it the way that it's done in real life,'" Boner added.

And for the students, real life is doing what they do when they perform. "That's what we're being trained to do. Just like a nursing student is trained to go out and perform nursing abilities, musicians are expected to be able to go and perform," says student Tyler Hughes.

And if you perform, you'll want to record; its all part of the program. "One of the things we want this program to is to just completely prepare the student for life. Real-world touring, traveling experiences, basically everything that's involved with being a musician," recording instructor Will MacMorran said.

So what you see on stage on any given night represents a well-rounded, well-prepared musical performer.

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