Marie McCarthy has provided us with a clear overview of the origins and fifty-year mission of the International Society for Music Education (ISME). It is apparent that there is a marked similarity of its goals, vision, and mission with those of CMS. It is not surprising that both societies have for much of their history sought to promote the highest level of teaching and musicianship at all levels of education.

Since 1973, CMS has been an Organizational Member of ISME. Shortly after, thanks to the initiative of then Executive Director Craig Short, CMS served as the North American Center for ISME for several years.

To better appreciate the similarities between these two societies one should understand that the term "music education" as used by ISME does not narrowly apply to only music teaching at the levels of early childhood through high school, as it is usually used in the United States. Rather, it is used to encompass a truly "comprehensive view of music education" at all levels, as evidenced by its membership, which ranges from Kinder Musik teachers to internationally recognized composers - all of whom represent this eclectic view of the field. ISME?s seven commissions provide an umbrella for the profession just as do the areas represented on the CMS Board and its Advisory Committees. The National Sections of ISME, as do the Regional Chapters of CMS, serve a similar purpose of more "grass roots" participation. Other indications of this shared mission of the two societies are the ISME Commissions for the Education of the Professional Musician, Music Teacher Training, and Research. Both organizations also are concerned with the increasing influence of technology on the music professions. ISME has addressed it through its Commission on Music in Cultural, Educational and Mass Media Policies that works closely with another International Music Council organization: MEDIACULT, which is based in Vienna.

An important consideration for those who participate in ISME has been the opportunity to widen ones international understanding of music and musicians and their place in various cultures. The ISME Declaration of Beliefs states: ". . .the music of the worlds cultures, seen individually and as a unit, should play a significant role in the field of music education, broadly defined." This concept is also supported in this country?s National Standards for Arts Education.

The friendships that develop through ISME activities certainly underline the power of music to improve "international understanding." This is mirrored in the expanding initiatives that CMS has been developing through its international conferences and workshops in world music.

Perhaps the most important thing that we in CMS can learn from ISME is the understanding that all areas of music in higher education have responsibility for the training of the music teacher. Thus, all professors of music become the teachers of teachers. The standards for our curricula designed for future pre-collegiate music teachers are intended to provide them with a comprehensive grounding as taught by professors from many of music's subdisciplines. This approach supports the important role the music teacher plays in preserving and developing the art of music and of making it an important part of both general education and hence the national culture.

With all these shared objectives and with a vision of the future that promotes music's fundamental role in society, it is not surprising that over the years ISME has attracted many CMS members and leaders to participate in its vision. They have included Arthur Tollefson, Patricia Shehan Campbell, Paul Lehman, Ric Trimillos, Barry Brooke, Robert Trotter, Claude Palisca, and many more.

As we look forward to sharing our 2003 meeting with the Society for Ethnomusicology, it is worth noting that Charles Seeger, one of the founders of SEM, played a similar role in the founding of ISME. His leadership and foresight helped to convince UNESCO to convene the international conference that led to the founding of ISME. The proposal he provided as the basis for the statutes of the Society set a course that now fifty years later still guides its work.

Both societies provide the profession with forums for dialogue about various aspects of music in all its many expressions. Thus, during their long-time affiliation ISME and CMS have continued to enhance music teaching in higher education so that students may have opportunities to enrich their experiences with music in their professional and personal lives. This is truly a shared commitment of which both can be proud.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 01/05/2013

Robert J. Werner

Robert J. Werner is Dean Emeritus of the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, having served as Dean of the institution from 1985 to 2000.  He served as Director of the School of Music of the University of Arizona 1973-1985, Director of the Contemporary Music Project from 1968 to 1973, and as Associate Professor of Music at SUNY-Binghamton from 1966 to 1969.  He has served as President of the International Society for Music Education (1984-1986), the National Association of Schools of Music (1989-1991), and The College Music Society (1977-1978).  He is author of numerous textbooks, scholarly publications, and articles; has served as a conductor, clinician, and speaker at numerous state, national, and international conferences; and has served as a consultant and accreditation reviewer for over 100 institutions in the United States and internationally.

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