On Professional Connections
The problem with our profession is that we are forever running just to keep up with our duties. How many of you can relate to 16-hour days? . . . to weekends spent trying to "catch up"? No wonder we frequently retreat instinctively into ruts for the sake of self-preservation. At least, ruts are comfortable, predictable, manageable, are they not? The only problem with ruts is that we pay for such comfort dearly with the hard cash of diminishing motivation and a depressing sense of insularity.
If we are looking for a better quality of life, perhaps we should put more effort into connections with those around us. When we have a basis of shared values or experience with others, as we do in our profession, connections help us develop a special way of looking at and experiencing life; connections help us find a sense of meaning and value; connections heighten our imagination and replace our insularity with a soothing sense of relatedness to others.
Please do not get me wrong: by "connections" I am not referring to networking or political maneuvering. I believe that we need not worry about our institutions if we focus on the individual and his/her community. A sense of community, of relationship to others, is much more important than organization. The interesting paradox is that a personal sense of connectedness results in professional and personal renewal, and this, in turn, results in institutional renewal.
While all the activities and services in which CMS engages are motivated by a desire to help us "connect" with people or issues in our profession, this seems like a good time to explore more thoroughly the reasons and the means for creating such connections. To that end, "Making Connections" will be the general theme of the Annual Meeting in Atlanta this October, and the Annual Meetings of 1997 through 1999 will develop this theme in more specific ways. This series will prepare the way for the culmination of the theme in the year 2000, when AMS, SMT, The Sonneck Society, ATMI, the Canadian University Music Society, and other organizations will join CMS in what promises to be a historic meeting in Toronto to inaugurate a new century of collaboration.
What type of "Connections" are we referring to? First, those all-important connections with ourselves: inquiry into the interests of our own fields; developing new teaching, performing, composing, or research techniques; self-growth. CMS can help us link more effectively with our colleagues: professional relationships within our institutions and with our colleagues nationally and internationally; relationships between sister organizations; relationships between students and teachers. We need to forge stronger bonds with our communities: How do we or should we relate to our local, national, and international communities? Lastly, connections with the future are inevitable: preparing the way for future generations; considering the future health of the arts within our culture; exploring the relationship between people and technologies of the future.
The "Making Connections" theme will serve us well now and in the future as CMS continues to reflect the natural interweaving of continuity and change which is such a natural part of our lives. The Annual Meetings will not be the only occasion for reflection we will use it to guide us in the content and aim of our publications, regional chapter activities, and professional development opportunities.
The Annual Meeting this October comes in the wake of the Atlanta Summer Olympics. I see appropriate parallels between an Olympics gathering and what we can expect to gain from the CMS Annual Meeting. Indeed, in October you will find impressive displays of individual talent and evidence of individuals triumph over obstacles, people meeting people and developing solid professional friendships, and open forums to develop dialogues of specific interest to our age or discipline groups. As C. Tayloe Harding, Jr., our Program Chair for Atlanta, has pointed out to me, the most compelling aspects of the location for both the Olympics and for CMS is Atlanta s dramatic history of glory and struggle, grace and brutality, pride and shame. Alas, the glory, grace, and pride inherent in our personal and professional growth are frequently accompanied by significant doses of struggle, brutality, and shame. Such is the nature of navigation through life. Fortunately, we do not expect the CMS Annual Meeting to create untenable traffic jams or to spur the scalping of tickets for events. Therefore, do come to Atlanta and enjoy Making Connections.