School of Music


Doctor of Music Education (DME)


Samantha Miller


bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, Kenny Baker, bluegrass fiddling, teaching fiddle technique, fiddle pedagogy, violin pedagogy




Despite the vast amount of research showing that learning an alternative string style such as bluegrass increases student motivation, interest, and retention in music programs, modern private violin instructors and string orchestra teachers who lacked exposure to bluegrass in their initial training do not feel they can authentically teach bluegrass fiddling to their students. A comprehensive bluegrass fiddle curriculum incorporating elements of classical and bluegrass music has not yet been developed. The curriculum would allow diverse musical exploration through structured and sequential bluegrass fiddling pedagogy. This qualitative research study identifies, examines, and compares current bluegrass fiddle methodologies as a framework for developing a comprehensive curriculum for teachers and students to use in lessons and the classroom to enhance learning and performing bluegrass fiddle music. It explores first-hand accounts of the history of bluegrass music through interviews with musicians who worked directly with Bill Monroe, analyses of fiddle transcriptions, and an examination of the oral tradition of learning by ear. Detailed transcriptions of the monumental album Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe establish playing techniques students need to know when learning bluegrass fiddling. This study encourages further research into how to teach bluegrass courses for teachers and ways instructors can apply bluegrass pedagogy to other traditional bluegrass instruments such as mandolin, guitar, and banjo. Findings from the research also encourage curricula development for many other popular musical styles, such as jazz, pop, and country.

Included in

Music Commons