AMERICAN fiddle player Laura Flanagan may be a long way from home in south-west Victoria but the region is the subject of her PhD.
She is undertaking a two-month fellowship researching different aspects of music in Australia, and community music in Terang and Camperdown.
It forms part of her five-year PhD in Fine Arts and Musicology at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock - her hometown and the birthplace of Buddy Holly.
She is two years into the course.
IN OTHER NEWS:
During her fellowship, Ms Flanagan will perform at the upcoming Robert Burns Scottish Festival in Camperdown, lead fiddle workshops, conduct presentations and undertake research for her PhD.
"I'm looking at the history of music in Terang and Camperdown and on different aspects of music in Australia, especially community music," she said.
"Besides my personal love for these communities and this area, I think in writings on things like music advancements rural areas tend to get overlooked."
She said the preliminary research, which included looking through national databases, speaking to scholars and folklorists, meeting with historical societies and perusing libraries allowed her to figure out her research question and dissertation.
Ms Flanagan said one thing that surprised her was there was "so much music" - including festivals, internationally-renowned instrument makers, community music ensembles, music classes in schools and dance teachers - in these towns of only thousands of people.
She said there were several reasons why she chose the south-west for her studies.
"When I was here in 2018, it was quite a turning point in my life because I was really sick and had to have emergency surgery," she said.
"Even though I didn't know many people at the time, I was fortunate enough to be taken care of by the people here. They saved my life."
Ms Flanagan was an orchestral director in the Texas public school system for 15 years. She learnt the double bass from age 10.
She is also writing a writing a book of the history of the music school at her university.
Ms Flanagan has played traditional Irish and Scottish fiddle music for more than 20 years, since she was about 19.
"It's just one of those things that spoke to my soul so I just had to do it," she said.
"You remember moments crystal clear in your life and I remember hearing (American fiddle player, guitarist and composer) Randal Bays play for the first time and it changed my life."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.