Lonely Planet Writer

Yodel your way to a degree in Switzerland

Many of us have studied abroad as a way of immersing ourselves in a local culture but if you want a truly uniquely Swiss experience, you could consider getting a bonafide qualification in yodelling.

Man yodelling in mountains near Konigsleiten
Will you be yodelling on the mountaintops soon? Photo by Matt Munro/Lonely Planet

The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts has confirmed they will run both a three-years bachelors degree and a two year masters qualification, both beginning for the 2018/2019 academic year. It will be led by Nadja Räss, a composer and a star in the yodelling world.

The new course will be part of the university’s music department and will cover musical theory, the history of the art form, how to start your own business and, of course, all the vocal techniques you need to master yodelling yourself.

Nadja Raess in traditional costume. Photo by andibrunner.com

It may seem unusual to outsiders, but there seems to be a renewed love for the traditional medium in Switzerland. Nadja Räss currently runs her own yodelling academy in Zurich and has seen an uptick in her private classes for beginners. Offering such a course has been high on the university’s agenda for years, as Michael Kaufmann, the head of the music department said and he believes it will transform the resurging yodelling scene.

Applications are opening on 28 February and it’s expected just three or four students will be chosen to embark on their yodelling studies.

What is yodelling?

Yodelling is characterised by continuous and rapid changes between low and high registers. While the technique itself is found in lots of cultures, it’s most associated with the Central Alps region where it has the earliest record in the world as communicating between villages and herding animal stock.

In the last 20 years, folk music in Switzerland has had a bit of a revival. You can find regular yodel nights in Zurich and there are even reports of a dedicated yodel bar opening soon.