About Bluegrass


The History

The roots of bluegrass reach back to the music brought to America by immigrants in the early 1600s, including dance music and ballads from Ireland, Scotland and England, as well as African American gospel music and blues. In fact, slaves from Africa brought the design idea for the banjo--an instrument now integral to the bluegrass sound.  

As the early Jamestown settlers began to spread out into the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky and the Virginias, they composed new songs about day-to-day life experiences in the new land. Since most of these people lived in rural areas, the songs reflected life on the farm or in the hills and this type of music was called "mountain music" or "country music."

Read More   (photo by Les Leverett)


Careers & Education in Bluegrass

BEGINNERS:  If you are interested in pursuing a career in music, you can improve your talents by singing, performing and playing at every opportunity available to you where you live now: school music classes, choirs, band, orchestra, jazz band, bluegrass clubs at school, bluegrass association jam sessions & workshops, church and community choirs, local music theater productions, private lessons, attending bluegrass workshops and camps, "learn to jam" camps, entering talent shows, etc. If you're looking for a teacher, a good place to start is your local music store that sells instruments and equipment pertaining to the type of music you want to perform, as well as local bluegrass music associations.  

(photo of Grey Fox Bluegrass Academy for Kids)


College Level Bluegrass & Music Business Programs

Appalachian State University
Center for Appalachian Studies
Boone, NC
(828) 262-2000
*four-year degree (major & minor), Masters in Appalachian Music: Roots & Influences

Belmont University
Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business

Nashville, TN
Bluegrass Ensemble Director: Michael McLain
(615) 460-6785
*degrees in audio engineering tech, entertainment industry studies, music business, songwriting

Berklee College of Music
American Roots Music Program Director,
Matt Glaser
Boston, MA
Tel. (617) 747-2507
*performance degrees with focus on bluegrass instruments; songwriting; production & engineering

The entire list of college programs:

Read More

(photo of ESTU bluegrass students)


Careers & Education in Bluegrass

GETTING TO THE NEXT LEVEL:  There are a number of instructional materials available now in print, on DVD and online. Check out the links below, for a list of bluegrass workshops and camps we're aware of, and also a list of colleges and universities that include instruction or degree programs in bluegrass music.

IBMA offers showcase opportunities for bands and songwriters at our annual World of Bluegrass Business Conference. (Call 1-888-GET-IBMA or email info@ibma.org.) We also plan a slate of professional development seminars, educational labs, workshops and mentor sessions for the conference--including a special track for Emerging Bands. You may also  be interested in checking out the Emerging Artist Support Group organized by IBMA member Henri Deschamps on Facebook.

A list of bluegrass camps and workshops


(Joe Val Bluegrass Academy for Kids)