Outreach Responsibilities of the Music in Higher Education Community

January 1, 2005

...to connect the American public to its real musical pulse.

In the spring of 2000, the CMS Committee on Advocacy began a Society-wide dialogue to consider the importance of music and music study and how it can be conveyed to a variety of populations in meaningful and effective ways. In inaugurating the project, the goals of the Society were to (1) empower its individual members to speak boldly and confidently concerning music, (2) empower groups of members working within the subspecialties to speak constructively concerning the role of the subspecialties within the music field, and (3) develop a unified voice for the issues that confront all musicians both individually and collectively.

The project was structured to occur in three phases over a period of four years. The first phase reviewed the worldview, perspectives, and responsibilities of musicians working in the higher education field, seeking to discover the concerns that all musicians in higher education have in common. The second phase included a series of open forums at CMS annual conferences to provide the membership with opportunities to voice concerns and ideas about what and how to advocate for the music disciplines. The third phase brings the results and conclusions of the first two phases together for review by the membership via this report, and, by extension, provides the opportunity to formulate an action plan for both individual musicians and the Society.

Phase One: Report Concerning The Musicians Worldview
Faculty in the music and higher education communities, as well as independent musicians, often view the world through the lens of their major areas of work within the music field. Three sectors dominate the music field: (1) Education (i.e., music education), (2) Creation and Presentation (i.e., composition and performance), and (3) Research (i.e., ethnomusicology, music theory, and musicology). In addition, special concerns of the music field include the education of the layperson as well as matters of cultural diversity and inclusioni.e., Music in General Studies. Accordingly, the Society sought first to illuminate the nature of the work of musicians in higher education, and to determine what practitioners in our field think should be conveyed to various populations about music and music in higher education.

Phase Two: Discussions by the Disciplines
The second phase of the project included a series of panels and forum sessions at conferences to provide opportunities for illuminating the nature of the work of the music disciplines, and also what their practitioners thought should be conveyed about them to various populations. The following presents a summary of the discussions during these panel sessions.

Music Education - The dominating theme of the field of music education is that music is for everyone. The greatest impact that music education can have is to foster engagement with music in the lives of individuals. Through music, the lives of individuals can be made more meaningful. This is a simple message that must be carried to the public by all music educators and organizations. Music study must be central to every curriculum at every educational level in order to strengthen each individuals ability to participate in aesthetic experience and discourse.

Musicology, Theory, and Ethnomusicology - Professors in the research areas feel that cultural, social, and stylistic contexts for performance and listening are central to a meaningful experience of music. New subdisciplines and emphases (e.g., music in society, multicultural studies, gender studies) have illuminated much of the cultural context of music. Connections must be made between knowledge gained in one academic subject (e. g.: theory) and another (e.g.: ethnomusicology) in order to increase the understanding of music. These connections lie at the heart of what each of these disciplines feels is most important to communicate through advocacythat the deepest musical experience, perception, and understanding depend on a practical synthesis of knowledge and feeling gained through study of ethnomusicology, music theory, and musicology.

Composition and Performance - CMS composers and performers share many of the same concerns; they believe that developing audiences receptive to their work is the greatest need in order to improve our cultural life. Thus, the primary task of advocacy is audience development. Composers feel that engaging performers who are interested and passionate about presenting composers works is the chief way that any new music can gain a larger audience. Performers are inspired by the challenge of learning and performing a new work and hope that this inspiration will be conveyed in their performance, thereby enlightening and intriguing audiences. Further, composers and performers share concern for the overall status of art music in our culture.

Phase Three: The Development of Action Items
Who Speaks for Music? Who Speaks for Music and Higher Education? The late Congressman from Massachusetts, Thomas Tip ONeill, is reported to have said that all politics are local. Ultimately, acts of outreach on behalf of music and its study must be performed by musicians within the communities in which they live and work. There is simply no magic to be done nationally or internationally that will suddenly bring music to a greater level of sophistication in every local community. Action must be taken by musicians individually and collectively where they live and work.

We, the entire music professoriate, are the carriers of art music in our culture. Actions we can take include supporting educational efforts wherever they are found and supporting music presentation in lively and creative ways, both on the college campus and in the community.

Accordingly, the CMS Advocacy Committee recommends the following action items:

  • Outreach for the Music Education of Children. Wherever we live and work, all musicians need to acquaint themselves with the means of educational delivery for pre-kindergarten through twelfth-grade children. These will be unique to all locations, but they will likely include public and private schools, private music teachers, and programs through churches, synagogues, local parks and recreation departments, and retirement and assisted living facilities. Get to know the music teachers, the administrators of the programs, and the governing entities (e.g., School Boards). We need to (a) find out from the teachers what it is they need in order to do their best work, and (b) help deliver that message to those in positions to improve the environment for education in music.

  • Outreach for Adults. Wherever we live and work, we need to get to know the means of music presentation. These will be unique to all locations, but they likely will include concert series in a variety of venues (e.g., formal concert and recital halls, libraries, worship centers, schools, even private homes). Get to know the administrators of the venues and any concert programs they sponsor. Find out from the administrators of existing programs what could be done to strengthen their offerings. Where recital halls and other venues are not being used, consider starting a concert series of an inventive nature, catering to the strengths and interests of the areas local composers, performers, ethnomusicologists, music theorists, and musicologists.

  • Reconsidering the Education of Graduate Students. If we are to realize the objectives of the advocacy issues suggested by this report, it will certainly be necessary to reconsider graduate education in our music departments, schools and conservatories. Today graduate curricula, especially at the doctoral level, give little attention to (a) insuring the role or importance of art music in our cultural life, (b) how to advocate this to a variety of publics, or (c) the importance of each musicians being able to articulate an awareness of the cultural heritage that art music represents. This will require a serious consideration of these concerns by those responsible for the education and training of the next generation of music professors and professionals. The music and higher education communities have a long tradition of excellence in educating skilled composers, performers, and scholars. Now it is important that outreach become a part of the responsibilities of every musician so as to be successful in addressing the challenges their art will face in the future.

  • Outreach to the Campus Community. Outreach to the Boards of Trustees that govern and the administrators that serve our higher education campuses is essential. It is up to us, as individuals and groups, constantly to conduct outreach to upper administrations concerning the role of music in both campus and cultural life. We can be assured that the environment on our campuses will continue unchanged if we do not take an active role in outreach to upper administrations.

In our many professional rolesas individual musicians, university faculty members, and members of national and international music organizationswe are faced with myriad challenges. In addition to what each of us can do locally, collectively through our national organizations we can in the years ahead share experiences and explore creative possibilities. To explore one avenue of possibility, The College Music Society conducted in San Francisco an outreach project that took portions of the CMS conference program into the community.

The CMS Advocacy Committee has now concluded the general exploration of outreach issues in the music and higher education community. We look forward to comment and discussion, as well as to the exploration of the vast outreach possibilities, in the months ahead.

2075 Last modified on May 8, 2013
Login to post comments