A message from Dr Christopher Smith, director of the Vernacular Music Center:  

Dear friends:

Thanks for your interest in the VMC, the Department of Musicology/Ethnomusicology, and the MUBA in Traditional Music(s) at Texas Tech. The following is a short summary of some of the commonest questions asked by candidates or parents about our 4-year undergraduate degree:

There are any number of excellent instrumental music programs at various schools in a number of folk-music-friendly communities. Off the very top of my head: Boston College, BU, UW-Madison, UT-Austin, UC-Berkeley, any of the NYC schools, IU-Bloomington, UW-Seattle will all provide a first-class university- or conservatory-style undergraduate education in music, and all of these are in places with very active and friendly local music communities.
 
However, pretty much NONE of those music programs will provide much flexibility: typically, an undergraduate student would have to qualify for academic admission to the university and for musical admission to a specific teacher's studio, etc. In turn, the expectation would be that s/he would (a) follow the curriculum expected of a standard music major (including theory, history, keyboard skills, ear-training, counterpoint, instrumental and orchestral study and performance, etc) and (b) emphasize playing classical or possibly jazz repertoires. Thankfully, the days in which students interested in other musics had to hide that interest from their studio teachers are mostly gone--but those other interests will typically NOT be permitted to supplant classical or jazz emphasis. (This of course omits those fine schools, with a practical- and business-skills-oriented emphasis, which grant Associate's or other 2-year degrees: Berklee, GTI, South Plains College, etc. These are great programs and very good values, but typically they do not grant a 4-year degree).
 
On the other hand, if what the student wants is an undergraduate music degree with a *concentration* on playing traditional musics, there are very few North American options. I am not aware of any 4-year programs that permit concentrating on, say, Irish fiddle, and grant a BA or BM degree.
 
Except one, which is our MUBA, offered through the Vernacular Music Center. It is intentionally a very flexible curriculum, typically designed to cater to students who are either (a) double-majoring in music and some other discipline, or (b) have very specific or atypical goals. MUBA students study 4 years, taking music history, music theory, basic keyboard and aural skills, and private lessons/coachings, but are NOT to give solo recitals or to study with a classical or jazz teacher.
 
As a parent, you may be interested to know that tuition, fees, and living expenses in Lubbock are vastly less costly than expenses at comparable programs in the region, such as UT-Austin and U North Texas.
 
If you or your student would like more information or to chat further, please don't hesitate to use the contact info below. And thanks again for your interest in the Vernacular Music Center.
 
all the best,
 
cjs
 
 
Dr Christopher Smith, Associate Professor and Chair of Musicology,
Director: Vernacular Music Center & TTU Celtic Ensemble;
Texas Tech University School of Music MS2033
Lubbock, TX 79409-42033
806/742-2270 x249; christopher.smith@ttu.edu
bio: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/music/SOM/ChristopherSmith.asp