Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Rehearsals


East Tennessee State University plays a huge role in Johnson City and Eastern Tennessee as a whole. The Department of Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country music also plays a large role within East Tennessee State University as one of the most recognizable programs within the university; a program that brings in a lot of out-of-state students and is renowned all over the world’s traditional music circles. The department’s music plays an audible role on campus. Anyone on the ETSU campus who happens to walk within sight distance of Brooks Memorial Hall on a warm day will likely hear blaring banjos since students on the third floor love to rehearse with the windows open. In the next building over, Sam Wilson Hall, students jam by the picnic table outside the door to the basement, and are frequently yet temporarily thwarted by non-musical professors attempting to teach without noise distraction, not to mention the numerous events all over campus and the surrounding area that bands from the department play for. Even the call waiting music campus wide is recorded by the Bluegrass department. The “Bluegrass” department is an integral part of the music and soundscape of an integral part of Johnson City, and the sounds and relationships behind how the music is made are an important piece to understanding our surroundings here in Johnson City, and gaining an understanding of the audible landscape. This sound plays a huge role in my personal experiences here at ETSU, since my office is surrounded by band rehearsal rooms, and multiple rehearsals can be heard at the same time on any given day of the week.


The main issues I had were finding relevant literature, and keeping anonymity of the participants.  I did my best to cut out all giveaways in the recording and attached transcripts, but it probably wouldn’t take too much detective work to figure out who is in the recordings.


In comparing the recordings I took in small  non-traditional  music classroom settings to the resources for traditional music teachers offered by the National Association For Music Education, many similarities arose.  The suggestions for traditional music teachers to keep their sense of humor, be “in tune’ with students, and to focus on upcoming performances used by all three non-traditional instructors as well. The non-traditional music settings had plenty of student participation, something not mentioned by NAFME. This dynamic was likely possible because the student ensembles in the non-traditional setting were so small, which allowed students to voice their individual input rather than a conductor just telling them what to do. Students frequently bring up their own suggestions and solutions to musical problems.

Students who didn’t speak up in the recordings seemed to claim their place in rehearsal by noodling on their instrument. In general most of the noodling was done by younger males in each of the recorded groups. Within the collected recordings, there was only evidence of a female noodling once, and evidence of a man over 25 noodling also only occurred once.


I recorded this project using a Zoom Handy Recorder H4N digital recorder, using the attached X/Y microphones. I placed the recorder in the corner of the rehearsal room and left while the band rehearsed. To obtain permission for the project, Prior to recording I asked several band instructors if I could record their respective rehearsals, and they all agreed. I recorded one Bluegrass Band, One Old Time Band, and one Country Band. The Old Time band was recorded in room 306 of Brooks Memorial Hall on the ETSU Campus, the Bluegrass band was recorded in 304 G of the same building, and  the Country Band was recorded in the Drum Room in basement of Sam Wilson. After recording, I transcribed the speaking elements of the rehearsals. I then edited together a sample of each of these using Audacity, and pasted together the transcriptions of the recorded elements used.


Adderley, Cecil, Mary Kennedy, and William Berz. ““A Home away from Home”: The World of the High School Music Classroom.” Journal of Research in Music Education 53, no. 3  (2016): 190-205.

Goodman, Elaine Claire. Analyzing the ensemble in music rehearsal and performance: the nature and effects of interaction in cello-piano duos. University of London, 2000.

Frank, Alexandra, ““That’s the way I’ve always learned”: The Transmission of Traditional Music  in Higher Education” (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 2381.

Malone, Bill C., and Jocelyn R. Neal. Country Music U.S.A. 3rd ed. Austin: University of Texas    Press, 2010.

Monson, Ingrid. Say Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Rosenberg, Neil V. Bluegrass: A History. 2nd ed. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois,  2005.

Springer, Nicole, and Ella Wilcox. “Classroom and Time Management Tips.” National    Association for Music Education.

Single, Nancy A. “An Exploratory Study of Pacing in the Instrumental Music       Rehearsal.” Contributions to Music Education, no. 17 (1990): 32-43.


Band Rehersals Annotated Bibliography


Band Rehersal Excerpts at ETSU Transcript

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