In the thread https://thesession.org/discussions/46359 about the Boehm flute there is mention of Philippe Barnes, an obviously highly talented musician and apparently nice guy, who has an MA in Irish Trad from University of Limerick. There is also a claim that "classically trained bodhran player" is definitely a thing: "It’s taught on the Traditional Music degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. For example Craig Baxter … studies Bodhran there alongside pipe band snare drum. His bodhran tutor there was Martin O’Neill." I take it as read that he is very good at it.
What concerns me is what I tried to put into the title here. Are we getting to the stage where, if someone is to be taken seriously as a trad musician, they have to have trained at Limerick or some other hallowed institution? Is traditional music becoming something owned by elites who have spent years attending a conservatoire? Is it no longer the music of farmers and labourers (if we buy the "rural idyll" myth) or, in more modern terms, shop assistants, teachers, bank staff, truck drivers, catering staff, hairdressers, computer programmers or, well, anybody really who has at least a few tunes on an acoustic instrument and likes to get together with others and bang them out?
For many years now there has been a trend for the music to be presented on stages, with lights, mikes and mixing desks, playing "at" an essentially passive audience who have paid $$$ to sit in rows of seats and absorb the entertainment. It’s a trend that goes back to the emergence of music halls, of course, and while it may be very entertaining, and the quality may be high, it’s inimical to the idea music as a common cultural good. I worry that the eltification associated with BAs and MAs and PhDs pushes in the same direction as commercial commodification.
So here’s to those who are (hopefully moderately competent) amateurs, and who make music in kitchens and pubs and public parks, who provide background music in bars or restaurants, in the street and in their own homes.