Fiddler Alert! Berklee Opens an American Roots-Music Program
Nadler, Danielle, Strings
Fiddler Matt Glaser leads new undergrad program of bluegrass, Cajun, gospel, jazz, classical, country, swing, and commercial music
VIOLINIST MATT GLASER, an icon in both jazz and bluegrass styles, is one of the visionaries behind a new fiddle program at the Berklee School of Music, where he broke ground 29 years ago when he helped launch the school's alternative-styles strings department.
The American roots-music program, offered to undergraduate Berklee students as a concentration or a minor, rivals the selection at Baskin Robbins by highlighting the numerous flavors that make up American roots music. Though the program's syllabus is still taking shape, the school intends to cover bluegrass, Cajun, gospel, jazz, classical, country, swing, and commercial music.
"All of these things formed a bedrock of all kinds of American music," American roots music program director Glaser says. "To me they're not that different. It's just life energy."
The violin has reached into practically every musical genre, Glaser says, and now is the time to study that development. "There's been a paradigm shift," he says. "Years ago, there were a few people doing a bunch of things, but there was no coherence to the scene. Now, kids take it as an article of faith that they should be able to play classical music, jazz, and various forms of fiddle music at a very high level.
"And when they set their minds to it, they really can do it."
Along with the curriculum, Glaser plans to promote nontraditional improvisation, develop faculty programs, and host visiting artists, concerts, and symposiums. Thus far, the program claims nearly 30 students. …