Whether you have career ambitions in music or want to incorporate music into your broader liberal arts experience, our Music program is a great opportunity. We offer a major (BA) and minor, stressing regional and cultural contexts through a methodological hybrid of music theory and performance, Appalachian studies, cultural studies, musicology, and ethnomusicology.
A cornerstone of our program is a unique concentration in Traditional Music that emphasizes the multicultural roots, influences, and varieties of vernacular music within Southern Appalachia. If you have interests outside of Traditional Music, you can choose a concentration in General Music that maintains the framework of the degree with an alternative set of core criteria and coursework.
You don’t have to submit a formal audition. However, we welcome recordings as part of the standard application process.
Group & Individual Instruction
Expert faculty offer an array of classes and one-on-one lessons, including the following areas:
- Appalachian Ballads
- Appalachian Step Dance
- Bass (upright and electric)
- Guitar (acoustic and electric)
- Square Dance
- West African Percussion
Music performance is an integrated part of our program. You will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of ensembles, which include:
- Bluegrass Band
- Jazz Ensemble
- Old-Time Band
- West African Ensemble
Taught by Professional Musicians
Our faculty includes the following accomplished musicians and experts:
- Kevin Kehrberg Theory/History/Culture Courses, Gamelan Ensemble, Old-Time Ensemble, Individual Instruction: Bass
- Phil Jamison Appalachian Music and Dance, Old-Time Ensemble, Individual Instruction: Fiddle, Banjo, Dance
- Ben Krakauer Theory/History/Culture Courses, Bluegrass Ensemble, Individual Instruction: Banjo
- Katie Cilluffo Individual Instruction: Voice
- Jason DeCristofaro Jazz Ensemble, Individual Instruction: Piano, Percussion
- Adama Dembele West African Ensemble, Individual Instruction: West African Music
- Parrish Ellis Individual Instruction: Guitar, Banjo
- John Engle Individual Instruction: Fiddle
- Dan Keller Jazz Ensemble, Individual Instruction: Jazz Guitar
- John Miller Songwriting, Individual Instruction: Mandolin, Banjo
- Ben Nelson Beginning String Band, Individual Instruction: Fiddle, Banjo
- Suzannah Park College Choir, Individual Instruction: Voice
- Bob Strain Individual Instruction: Piano
- Travis Stuart Old-Time String Band, Individual Instruction: Banjo
- Natalya Weinstein Individual Instruction: Fiddle
Traditional Music & Dance
Warren Wilson College is inextricably linked to our location in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and our Traditional Music program is firmly tied to the Appalachian region. Our conception of traditional music and dance is one that embraces change and innovation while celebrating the many artistic lifeways and expressions of previous generations.
The program fosters an inclusive, intergenerational artistic community where you’ll acquire a shared musical language and develop your own unique voice. Here are a few of the many ways that you can engage with traditional music and dance on campus:
- During the school year, weekly noontime jam sessions are hosted by faculty outside the cafeteria, a monthly Traditional Music Concert Series features top performers from around the region and the country, and our annual Fiddles & Folklife Festival happens in the spring with contests and prizes for individual performers and bands.
- Warren Wilson is also host to the Old Farmers Ball, a community contra dance that takes place every Thursday in Bryson Gym. This dance, founded in 1982, is known throughout the country.
- Since 1992, the Swannanoa Gathering has offered a series of weeklong folk music workshops on campus during the summer. The programs include Traditional Song Week, Celtic Week, Old-Time Music and Dance Week, Guitar Week, Contemporary Folk Week, Mandolin and Banjo Week, and Fiddle Week.