Swiss university preserves the art of yodeling

Ariel Kohane

Staff Writer

Yodelling is an iconic form of music which has traditionally been used to herd sheep and other livestock through the Swiss and Austrian Alps. Its rapid change in pitch and unique use of vocal “warbling” is difficult to forget. According to Deutsche Welle, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Luasa) will be the first school in Switzerland to offer such a program. Students can either get a three-year bachelor’s degree or a two-year master’s, Business Insider wrote.

Switzerland has been trying to get this genre of music UNESCO World Heritage Status since 2014, reports BBC News. The art of yodelling is over five hundred years old and has recently been re-popularised by The Sound of Music as well as a Eurovision song from 2017. This increase in popularity has led experts and professionals to develop Luasa’s new program.

The yodelling program will be selective. Only three out of four students are likely to be accepted. The courses will be taught by Nadja Räas, a renowned Swiss yodeller who has a yodelling academy in Zurich. Luasa’s music department head, Michael Kaufmann, said he wanted to implement the program sooner, but the school could not find a teacher qualified enough until they hired Räas. In an interview with St Galler Tagblatt, Kaufmann praised Räas’s abilities, saying she is “number one.”

Luasa’s new program, however, is not without controversy. The president of Switzerland’s National Federation of Yodel, Karin Niederberger, criticised the program for being “redundant,” says Tribune de Genève. She claims that in the past, university programs such as this one have not been necessary for keeping the art of yodelling alive. She and many others are afraid that the program will “cheapen” the genre.

Räas said that new students will be taught a number of vocal techniques and styles as well as the history of yodelling. She believes the entire yodelling community will benefit from the program. “Our program will only train a few people out of thousands of yodellers,” she told Tribune de Genève. “Yodelling is a living folklore that must continue to develop.”

The program will officially begin in the 2018-2019 academic year. Applications open on the 28 of February. Be sure to sign up!

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