Do You Feel Neglected?
Published online: 1 May 2002
Arts Administration (82), Bell Choir (156), Collegium (214), Music Librarian (213), New Music Ensemble (222), Piano Technician (107), Music Therapy (228)Ñthese are just a few of the music specialties followed by a rough count of faculty membersÕ names in each. My source of information, of course, is the 2001-2002 CMS Directory of Music Faculties in Colleges and Universities, U.S. and Canada. This list can only suggest the wonderful variety of musical activities and professional specializations that are included in music in higher education at the start of the 21st century. You can guess why I might have listed these particular areas: the relatively small numbers within each made them the easiest to count in the 407-page section of the Directory devoted to Areas of Teaching Interest! More to the point is that I chose them also as examples of fields that are unlikely to have a seat on the CMS Board—that is to have a Board member exclusively representing, say, teachers of Arts Administration or Music Librarianship.
Presently the Board has seven members, each representing one of these music disciplines: Composition, Ethnomusicology and World Music, Music Education, Music in General Studies, Music Theory, Musicology, and Performance. From time to time, we (the Officers and Board Members) have been asked to consider adding new Board positions. We have occasionally initiated such discussion ourselves. It is relatively easy to think of the advantages that would accrue both to the sub-discipline under consideration and to the Society if the Board were expanded. So far, expense and unwieldiness—the reasons most often given for not increasing its size—have won the day. At our Spring meeting, this Board also functions as the Program Committee (to select presentations for the next Annual meeting) and as the Professional Development Committee (to monitor and approve events that are for the most part held in the summer).
I perceive that those who have been active in CMS for some time feel quite comfortable with the first sentence of our mission: "The College Music Society is a consortium of college, conservatory, university and independent musicians and scholars interested in all disciplines of music" (italics mine). It is also obvious that some members, while faithfully renewing their memberships on an annual basis, feel nonetheless like outsiders—believing that their areas of interest are neglected by the Society.
I am solidly in the first group. And it is not because I think that the only important areas of teaching are those represented by the existing Board positions. Such thinking would be blatant hubris, and those who know me well are aware that intellectual arrogance is an anathema to me—a sin second only to sins of physical violence to others. How is it, then, that I can serve as a CMS President who firmly believes that the Society fulfills its mission quite splendidly, while realizing that many of the interests of members go unheralded, receive little or no treatment in our publications, or are not celebrated at our regional and annual meetings? It is because I have witnessed, again and again, the collective character of CMS changing as the interests and energies of its members bear fruit in the form of proposals for meetings, substantive projects that develop into summer institutes or workshops, articles submitted for the Newsletter or Symposium, and any number of other manifestations of a passion for and/or dedication to one's work. It is therefore my responsibility, along with other officers and board members, to ensure that we welcome a diversity of quality ideas from the widest possible array of musical endeavors and provide the organizational instruments to allow them to flourish.
When I began to devote significant time to CMS in the late 1970s, there was considerable concern expressed by members for the music education of the general student. This concern did in fact result in the eventual creation of a position on the Board for Music in General Studies. Later, music theory pedagogy institutes began popping up during intermittent summers, as well as exciting participatory workshops in world music. Both these endeavors continue to thrive. Most recently, a few adjunct faculty, a few community college faculty, and a few music administrators have been serving on task forces dedicated to their special interests. All three groups are helping CMS as a whole respond to the needs and professional concerns in these areas. Again, the task forces acquire their momentum from individuals working from within these areas. And it is the energy and imagination of a task forceÕs membership that will sustain its efforts, bring visibility and recognition to the specialization, and perhaps help that area of interest find a permanent place in the Society—if not represented on the Board perhaps as a standing committee, a professional development event, or a publication.
So, if your assessment is that the music specialty to which you are devoted is not in the mix of The College Music Society's pursuits, here are some specific things you can do:
- Look in the Directory for the colleagues listed in your specialty. You most likely will know some of them. Contact a few and begin a dialogue on how you collectively might encourage the Society to turn its gaze your way.
- Submit a proposal to a regional or annual meeting. While the scholarship of discovery in your field is always welcome, it may be more worthwhile at this stage to propose a presentation or panel on how your specialty is engaging some of the new thinking in the scholarship of teaching and learning, or how your field influences the world outside (the scholarship of application), or how your field relates to other disciplines. Remember, your job at first will be to attract the interest of music professionals from many disciplines.
- Submit a proposal for a summer event that is especially designed for professionals in your area or, if possible, an event that might encourage other musician/teachers to become interested in developments in your field.
- Write something. Here's is the Call for Contributions for College Music Symposium.
I would like to thank Robert Halseth, whose letter was published in the September 2001 Newsletter and whose thoughts prompted this column. Professor Halseth expressed in the clearest of terms his dissatisfaction with the absence of acknowledgment and the lack of treatment of the contributions of band and wind ensemble teachers and the place of wind and percussion literature in our musical culture. He has the right to express his dissatisfaction. His penultimate sentence reads: ÒAnd now we find ourselves at the beginning of a new millennium getting a bit feisty.Ó I hope I have given him and others who may have similar opinions some suggestions on how that feistiness can be put to good use. By the way, Professor Halseth, the Band listing contains 1738 names; the Wind Ensemble 680. Go to it!
John Buccheri retired as the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence and Associate Professor of Music Theory at Northwestern Univeristy School of Music. His scholarly work deals with strategies for the teaching of theory, particularly rhythm and hypermeter, mental rehearsal, and the analytical reading of score. He has given over 90 presentations at professional meetings and has been an invited speaker and workshop director at several universities. He has participated in two grants from the Fund for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), and has received a number of grants from Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts (CIRA). As a pianist, he directed a CIRA grant involving improvisation strategies for dancers and musicians. He presently plays cocktail music for a number of charitiy events. He has received the Exemplar in Teaching Award from the Northwestern School of Music, and the Northwestern Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award. He received the first Gail Boyd de Stwolinski Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Music Theory Teaching and Scholarship, and has served CMS as Secretary, Board Member for Music Theory, and President. Travel, digital photography, music and “cuddling” (volunteering at Evanston’s Cradle Nusery and Adoption Center) take up most of his time these days.