To promote the important educational part of the club’s mission, the club solicits and accepts donations to the Southwest Bluegrass Club Scholarship Fund and makes a semiannual monetary donation from this fund to the South Plains College Foundation. Our donation provides a scholarship opportunity to deserving and talented bluegrass music students in the Commercial Music degree program at South Plains College in Levelland, TX. South Plains College is one of very few colleges in the country that offers an associate degree in commercial music and the only one in Texas that specializes in commercial music styles.
Scholarship applications are screened by the South Plains College Commercial Music department. The scholarship funds provided by our club are considered to be “program specific”. To read more about South Plains College scholarship availability, click here.
Bluegrass Scholarship Recipients
Read more about past and present recipients of the Southwest Bluegrass Club Scholarship.
Here is a letter that is sent to prospective Bluegrass students:
South Plains College Bluegrass Program Information Letter
Originally called the “Country Music” program, the Creative Arts department at South Plains College was established in 1975. Due to the popularity of bluegrass music with students, the program title was changed to “Country and Bluegrass” a few years later. Students came from all over the country to study guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and steel guitar and to perform in ensembles in country and bluegrass styles. In the late 1970s, the young program was profiled on a nationally televised PBS special entitled “Bluegrass Spectacular.” Soon thereafter, many major newspapers, radio and television news programs ran stories on the unique college that gave a degree in country and bluegrass music. Many new students were attracted to the program, faculty was added and the program grew.
In 1980, the program was expanded to include a state-of-the-art recording studio and a course of study in Sound Technology. Additional faculty was hired to handle the growing student population. Legendary bluegrass banjo player Alan Munde joined the faculty that already included Tim McCasland (dobro, steel, guitar, banjo,) Ed Marsh (fiddle, bass, music theory,) Joe Carr (mandolin, guitar, fiddle) and John Hartin (director, guitar.)
Through the 1990s, new ensembles were added to include classic country, jazz, rock and roll, heavy metal, Contemporary Christian and a host of other unique American popular music styles. Vocal and keyboard classes were added that resulted in a near doubling of faculty and students. The newly re-named “Creative Arts” Department, included Commercial Music, Sound Technology and Video Production.
Former South Plains College students include Mike Bub (Del McCoury Band,) Ron Block (Alison Krauss Band,) Lee Ann Womack and Natalie Maines (Dixie Chicks.) Our graduates have found work in positions throughout the music industry from sideman musicians to technical support to songwriting.
Today, students with an interest in bluegrass music take private lessons on the instruments of their choice, perform in student ensembles and take a variety of other music-related courses including “Masters of Bluegrass” (history,) music theory, music and computers, songwriting, Intro to the Recording Studio and many others. Bluegrass musicians chosen for the Television audition ensembles perform monthly on the student produced “Pickin’ On The Plains” television program. Students with broad interests often study several styles and perform in more than one ensemble. Qualified graduates are eligible for a one-year certificate in Commercial music or a two year degree.
As a two-year community college, we have an open door registration policy. This means we welcome student musicians of all experience levels from beginners to advanced. Some scholarship assistance is available. Interested students should submit a two to four minute recording (CD, cassette or video) featuring their talents to Cary Banks, Creative Arts, South Plains College, 1401 College Ave., Levelland, Texas 79336. Alternately, in-person auditions can be arranged.
For more information, contact Joe Carr (806) 894-9611 ext 2493 firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan Munde (806) 894-9611 ext 2492 email@example.com