Appalachian Music and Dance

Rebecca Keeter
Day/Time Taught: 
MW 3:30-4:45 pm
Course Number: 

Arts often reflect and help shape cultural norms and beliefs. In this class, we will explore how traditional music and dance forms and styles in Appalachia are integrated into local communities, paying special attention to their expression in Watauga County and neighboring areas. Through research, interviews, artistic participation, and observation, students will come to understand the European, African and Native American origins of this unique culture and how it represents in many ways the historical diversity of the American experience. We will examine how these music and dance forms not only serve as aesthetic expression, but also perform essential social functions, such as community building, conveying society mores, and passing on traditions and values from one generation to the next. In the class, students might study Native American music and dance and its importance to the community and then attend a Native American powwow. We might investigate traditional Celtic dance traditions through videos, interviews, and readings and then participate in a local traditional dance derived from Celtic culture. We might investigate the African origins as well as modern expressions of the banjo in the Appalachian Collection in the library, in the local community, and through publications such as Foxfire. Then, students would build a simple banjo from “found” materials (cans, branches, wire, etc.) based on their research. Ultimately, students will work in small groups to research and create a final artistic project that demonstrates their understanding of the various roles music and dance have in society. Students will: read materials dealing with traditional arts and culture relating to Appalachia and its bridge cultures; watch and listen to video and audio examples; participate in and experience traditional music and dance forms; work with Appalachian University Documentary Services to learn skills necessary for interviewing and documenting local traditional artists; write reflections of their research and experiences; discuss traditional music and dance and their historical, cultural, aesthetic, and societal roles.


Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Dr. Martha McCaughey

QEP Global Learning