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HCTC has international student; Japanese doctor enrolled in music classes

student and facultyDr. Hironobu Oda was growing up in Kobe, Japan and watching American television, including the Beverly Hillbillies. He says hearing that song had an influence over him and his musical interest. That interest prompted him to enroll at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music because he wanted to hone his ability; he appreciates the musical instruction provided to him by faculty member Scott Napier, who teaches him via Skype.

Dr. Oda is a gastroenterological surgeon of Takamatsu Medical Center. He graduated from Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokushima, Japan. Music is a great interest of his during his down time in the demanding world of medicine. Hazard Community and Technical College is happy to accommodate international students through technology.

Oda appreciates Kobe for its beautiful seaport that has many ships from foreign countries would dock there. Kobe has several coffee shops and other establishments playing country and bluegrass music.

Growing up, I became interested in music, in the seventies the Japanese popular music was influenced heavily by American music. I was looking for the roots of American music and what I found was Bluegrass! Since my college days I have been a big Bluegrass fan, he said. He had been playing the mandolin for a long time and was self taught by ear, but he wanted to increase his musical knowledge. He has the utmost praise for Scott Napier, calling him a talented and passionate musician.

This international student visited Hyden in 2009 and had a good time playing music with the HCTC professors and students. He looks forward to a return visit someday.

When Oda visits, he will be excited to see Scott Napier as well as another music school faculty member and his friend, JP Mathes. Oda and Mathes first met in 2003 while Mathes was touring Japan with Mandolinist Taro Inoue, David Grier, and the late Mandolinist Katsu Miyazaki. He has had a great relationship with Oda ever since our first encounter. Oda hosts Mathes and his wife/musical cohort Leona each year when they tour Japan. Oda performs with them as a special guest and they also perform with his Bluegrass band called, Longing for the Southland.

Oda is an innovative mandolinist who has been inspired not only by the originators of Bluegrass Music, but he also draws influence from more contemporary and modern performers. Oda is not only a mandolin player and a world class surgeon, he is also one of the regional leaders of Bluegrass Music in Japan. He works tirelessly, as do many others, to keep the American art form alive in Japan, Mathes said.

Oda spends most of his vacation time in Japan promoting concerts, festivals, and hosting international performers such as Sammy Shelor, Don Rigsby, Terry Baucom, and many others. His love for the music very obvious if you just ride in his car with him. A car ride filled with mandolins and an endless hard drive filled to the brim with thousands of bluegrass songs, noted Mathes.

HCTC s music school has created an online traditional music courses along with an online audio recording program which allows taking the program from Hyden to Japan and beyond.

Interested in enrolling in person or online at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music? Call 606-487-3630.