About the Music Department

The Berea College Music Department assumes leadership in the musical arts area for the campus. The Department offers private instruction in several instruments, and a variety of large and small instrumental and vocal ensembles. In addition, the Department offers a clearly defined succession of courses leading to a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music, Music Education—Vocal, and Music Education—Instrumental. Both Music Education programs lead to P-12 teacher certification. A Music minor is also available. Contact us for more information.

Faculty Spotlight

Sam Gleaves

Instructor of Traditional Music;
Director of the Bluegrass Music Ensemble

At Berea College Starting August 2020

The Berea College Music Department welcomes newly appointed instructor Sam Gleaves.

Sam Gleaves

Sam Gleaves

Sam Gleaves began studying old time music as a teenager in his home community of Wytheville, Virginia. Some of Appalachia’s finest musicians mentored Sam, including Jim Lloyd and Sheila Kay Adams. Sam moved to Kentucky in 2010 to enroll at Berea College.  Sam performed for four years with the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble, directed by Al White, including the group’s tours in Ireland and Japan. After graduating with a degree in Folklore, Sam began performing and teaching in a variety of settings, including public schools, colleges and universities, prisons, festivals, and music camps.  In 2015, Sam collaborated with producer Cathy Fink and released a debut record of his original songs, titled Ain’t We Brothers, which has been featured by The Guardian and National Public Radio. Sam has released a total of five recordings, including collaborations with Tyler Hughes, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, Deborah Payne, Si Kahn, and Saro Lynch-Thomason. In 2016, Sam worked with acclaimed author Silas House to co-write the folk opera IN THESE FIELDS, commissioned by the Southern Foodways Alliance. That same year, Sam toured in the U.K. supporting folk music icon Peggy Seeger. In 2018, Sam was the featured musician for the Jean Ritchie Lecture at the National University of Ireland in Galway and artist-in-residence at Michigan State University’s Residential College for Arts and Humanities. Sam served for two years as Traditional Arts Director at Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, Kentucky.   

Click here to view Sam Gleaves’s faculty page.

Genaro Rascon Jr.

Instructor of Traditional Music;
Director of Mariachi Berea

At Berea College Since 2017

The Berea College Music Department welcomes Genaro Rascon Jr. to his new role as Director of Mariachi Berea. 

Genaro Rascon Jr.

Genaro Rascon Jr.

Genaro Rascon Jr. is a career mariachi musician who has spent the last decade traveling all over the world showcasing traditional Mexican music.

Originally from the Imperial Valley in California, Genaro came to us in August of 2017 as assistant to the mariachi program’s founder, Al White. A multi-instrumentalist with expertise in traditional Mexican instruments, including vihuela, guitar, trumpet and guitarron, Genaro aims to bring awareness to traditional Mexican culture and music in the world of academia.

Click here to view Genaro Rascon Jr.’s faculty page.

Mission Statement

The Berea College Music Department recognizes that music is an essential component of a liberal arts education.  We are committed to creating an educational environment that combines the academic rigors of the discipline with the artistic standards of performance.

Through music, the Berea College Music Department affirms the college’s mission by:

  • providing a music education of high quality that relates to the liberal arts foundation and outlook
  • developing creativity and independence of thought
  • serving the community through the teacher education program, public performances and other musical opportunities
  • establishing an educational environment that respects diverse learning styles, performance styles and practices
  • providing various musical opportunities for all students on campus
  • developing awareness of music’s connection with regional, national, and international cultures
  • encouraging collaboration and teamwork
  • integrating musical experiences with the labor program to enhance professional development, promoting lifelong support and appreciation of the arts.