Graduate Students as Untapped Resources
The process of exploring usually begins with finding an appropriate starting point. From there, we are directed to yet another point that offers a hub for additional avenues. The process continues until we reach a destination, locating the desired information or have compiled enough information to continue on a specific avenue. Exploring possibilities within the field of music requires a knowledge of all available resources, such as computer technology and computer networking. With the view that a typical graduate music program is comprised of individuals representing an electronically literate, culturally diverse, and professionally trained population, it is reasonable to recognize that graduate students, accessible and eager, can be a significant untapped resource in this process.
Graduate students have much to offer in the area of information technology skills. Many of us learned to locate research materials directly from our professors, either through a graduate course in research and bibliography or simply by asking them where to find specific information. The information base available to us now requires competency with on-line computer skills. Harold E. Griswold gives the reason:
"Most universities and many high schools, companies, and libraries are already connected to the more than five thousand discussion groups and twenty-five hundred electronic newsletters. These provide unprecedented opportunities for students and teachers to observe or participate in worldwide discussions on the latest research in practically any field. Being on the Internet not only connects you to people all over the world, but it also connects you to thousands of computers where you can freely access databases, sound files, picture files, and text files." l
It could be an overwhelming task to stay abreast of all of the databases that are being created. Networking, then, could begin at a more local level, i.e., making and
maintaining contact with students who are highly proficient in this technology and who might come across information one is seeking. Creating a subsequent electronic network that is reflective of interdisciplinary interests, such as those found in a graduate student body, will naturally be a more far-ranging one. For example, the electronic discussion lists to which I subscribe have come to my attention through colleagues, several of them in other fields, who really like to play with this technology, extracting everything they can from its potential. They are watchful of keywords and pass the information along. I, in turn, pass on information that they may find interesting. It has been my experience that the more technically capable individuals are always willing to empower others in this medium. To the advantage of everyone, these kinds of individuals are abundant in any graduate program.
Graduate students can facilitate the communication between the university and the surrounding community. This interaction, according to John E. Taylor, is generally regarded as mutually beneficial.2 Louis F. Chenette points up that the community is ". . . much more than houses that surround the campus. It is all of the people connections where we are planted and with which together we make an organic whole. The community is extremely important to those of us who are artists."3 The graduate school acts as a hub of information for this interaction by providing the continuous current of dialogue between the university and the community. Students represent many spokes from the hub, as diverse in cultural background and areas of community service as they are in musical interest. My colleagues at the Claremont Graduate School, in the music program alone, include public and private grade-school teachers, church administrators, librarians, free-lance performers, members of community orchestras, studio teachers, museum curators, and college-level instructors. Many of these people are involved with other community-minded activities, especially those persons who have children in school. The university/community exchange, it would seem, could be enhanced by identifying these cooperative links and taking advantage of the resources at their hands.
Graduate students who teach at the elementary level are able to glimpse ahead to the future of music in our lives. They work directly with the agents of future change: young children. As affirmed by Patricia Sheehan Campbell, the concern over the quality of K-12 music education is very much within the domain of graduate level programs. She wrote: "The National Standards for Arts Education deserves the serious attention of all collegiate faculty of music. Staying tuned to the musical training of American school children is the shared responsibility of all people in the broad 'business' of music education, at every level and in every specialization."4
In a graduate program, there are students who may have extensive professional training in elementary music education, e.g., Kodaly or Orff certification. These students traverse the breadth of the educational spectrum and bring this experience back to the seminar, offering the perspicacity that might otherwise be unavailable, on a first-hand basis, to those who teach exclusively at the college level. Many of these methodologies are associated with teaching at the elementary level, but they have application to teaching upper levels. These students are in a prime position for adapting, developing, and sharing some effective teaching techniques for all levels. Keeping attuned to music's future through effective pedagogical techniques should be a priority for all of us. These students can offer much toward our being informed.
W. Chris Lengefeld is accurate in stating that: "The world of music appears boundless. Its rich variety, cultural diversity, and vast artistic domain challenge our resources and endeavors."5 It is an exciting time, given the potentials of on-demand global accessing and university/community interaction. Fruitfully exploring their possibilities demands that we not only challenge existing resources but also be ever watchful for new ones. Graduate students are informed, accessible, and eager to please. Most are still in the process of reaching out to their own boundaries, but they constitute the very resources that might bring the boundaries within reach, facilitating the exploration, for all of us, toward new beginnings.
1 Harold E. Griswold, "Multiculturalism, Music, and Information Highways," Music Educators Journal, November 1994, 41.
2 John E. Taylor, "Community and University Cooperation: Service Role and Support," CMS Newsletter, November 1994, 4 & 8.
3 Louis F. Chenette, "University and Community -- A Special Relationship," CMS Newsletter, November 1994, 3.
4 Patricia Sheehan Campbell, "What Every Young American Should Know," CMS Newsletter, May 1994, 3.
5 W. Chris Lengefeld, "The Merits of Cooperation," CMS Newsletter, November 1994, 2 & 8.
David A. Brock was a graduate student at Claremont Graduate School.