School of Music


Master of Arts in Music Education (MA)


Douglas Crawley


Appalachian, Bristol Sessions, Old-time music, Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family


Elementary Education | Music | Music Education


It is widely accepted that the culture in which one lives is important to his/her understanding of self. Likewise, it has been shown that a working knowledge of cultural music aids in developing one’s musical identity. Although research indicates that there appears to be a gap in cultural music education, there has been little written as to how that gap can be filled, especially with respect to Appalachian cultural music. The Southern Appalachian Mountains are rich in musical diversity. In addition to the already present Native Americans, settlers came from Ireland, Germany, Africa, and other European countries and brought with them their musical heritage. The combination of the various musical styles became what is known as Appalachian Mountain Music. Unfortunately, many students of this region know very little about the music that shaped the area. The 1927 Bristol Sessions have been called the “big bang” of country music because, from this event, several other kinds of music were ultimately created. Instrumental playing styles like the Carter scratch captivated audiences and influenced such artists as Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, and Bob Dylan. The musical genres of Bluegrass and Country are direct descendants of the Mountain and Sacred music performed in Bristol. This paper will show how the 1927 Bristol Sessions can be used to introduce elementary music students in the Southern Appalachian region to a major piece of their musical heritage, and how this regional event helped to shape 20th century American music.