Traditional Irish Music
Howdy, folks. New member from the states.
There are no degree programs at any university in the USA, although there are a couple places that offer a minor, such as the Center for Traditional Music at Morehead State in Kentucky. Berklee has a Roots Music Program with lots of Irish music activity but no actual degree.
My own school, Cedarville University (Ohio), is offering what I believe to be the first college-level session class at any American university.
I would also mention that among young classical string players, nearly all of them have at least some level of interest in American and Irish fiddle traditions, which seems like a good sign for the future.
Good points. I do feel some responsibility to my students when it comes to degree design; even though it would be nice to live in a world in which one studied whatever was true, good, and beautiful, the expectation in the US is that a college degree should create some kind of job skills. It is difficult to imagine what a degree in trad could lead to, employment-wise. For that reason we are creating a minor that can be taken in addition to other music and general studies.
At this point I can justify a minor to students, parents, and my administration. A major would be another matter altogether.
We have had a Sunday evening session going here in Grand Rapids, Michigan for about three years now. We have a core of about 8 musicians and another 20 some who attend sporadically. We also occasionally have people from out of state drop in. Last week there was a fellow from the State of Maine who was visiting relatives in a city about 25 miles away. He ferreted us out and made the trip just to play with us. There are also groups in the cities of Lansing, Kalamazoo, Benton Harbor, Holland, Muskegon, Conklin, Traverse City and Boyne. Those are just the West Michigan sessions that I know of.
This year in February I organized a combined session and invited people from all these groups. It was held at our regular meeting place on the Sunday after the Super Bowl, so naturally it was called the Super Session. To say it was a success it a gross understatement. Counting the musicians was a bit like counting ants on an anthill, but somebody put in a concerted effort and came up with 67 musicians, and another 40 some listeners (punters?). Yes, it was chaotic much of the time, but it was fun. There will be another next year on the Sunday after the Super Bowl - and all reading this message are invited.