Yodel-Ay-Hee-Hoo! A Degree in Yodeling Awaits

Yodeling dates back more than 500 years and was used by herders in the Austrian and Swiss Alps to communicate with villages and livestock herds. Valeriano Di Domenico/AFP/Getty Images

Warm up your vocal cords! A Swiss university is offering two degree programs for students who want to learn the art of yodeling.

Yodeling, a singing technique that involves rapid repeated changes in pitch, is closely related to Alpine countries, like Switzerland and Austria, but plenty of other places have exhibited yodeling traditions, including China and the Pygmies of Africa.

Starting in the 2018-2019 academic calendar, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Luasa), will offer a handful of students the option of a three-year bachelor's degree or a two-year master's degree. As part of the program, students will learn not only how to sing, but also the history of the technique and how to start a business that will teach yodeling to others.

Bringing yodeling back

Luasa's music department head, Michael Kaufmann, had been trying to get the program off the ground for a number of years, but the school needed the right instructor.

"We have long dreamed of offering yodeling at the university, and with Nadja Räss we got the No.1. It is an absolute stroke of luck for us," he told the newspaper St. Galler Tagblatt, which was reported by DW.com.

Räss has her own yodeling academy, and she routinely yodels at various events. You can get a sense of her style in the video below.

Not everyone was a fan of the academic yodeling news.

"University studies have not been necessary to keep the yodel alive for decades," Karin Niederberger, the president of the National Federation of Yodel, told the Tribune de Geneve.

Niederberger has a point. Yodeling has never really gone away over its long history. The singer Jewel often yodels, and singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autry also yodeled back in the day. People watch "The Sound of Music" every year when it airs on TV during the holidays, and it even features a bit of yodeling.

Switzerland has also petitioned UNESCO to grant yodeling world heritage protection under its intangible cultural heritage conventions, joining the likes of Korean tightrope walking and Peruvian scissor dancing.

Yodeling was even incorporated into a seventh-place finishing Eurovision performance by Romanian stars Ilinca Băcilă and Alex Florea from 2017 that also blends rock, pop and hip-hop.

Hopefully, Băcilă gets an honorary degree.

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