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Eliot Grasso's dissertation, Melodic Variation in the Instrumental Dance Music Tradition of Ireland, was awarded the University of Oregon's Special Award for Outstanding Ethnomusicology-Related Dissertation for illustrating the connection among history, enculturation, cognition, and improvisation in Irish traditional music. Grasso was awarded the Thelma Adamson Prize in Ethnomusicology for his research on cognition and melodic variation, and was honored with Goucher College’s Dean Van Meter Alumni Fellowship to conduct performance practice research in Ireland.

Grasso has taught and performed Irish traditional music extensively in North America and Europe, and has played for the National Endowment for the Arts Awards, the National Heritage Awards, Glasgow's International Piping Festival, Piping Live!, and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As a recording artist, Grasso has collaborated on numerous recording projects. In 2007, his album, Up Against the Flatirons, inaugurated Na Píobairí Uilleann's (Ireland’s national piping society) Ace and Deuce of Piping recordings series, an artistic enterprise funded by the Arts Council of Ireland that was initiated to document the finest living exponents of the uilleann pipes.