The Symbiosis of Teaching and Research: A Forum
Published online: 1 October 2004
- PDF: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40374485
J. Peter Burkholder, with H. Wiley Hitchcock, Brooklyn College, City University of New York; Susan McClary, University of California, Los Angeles; Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Harvard University
J. Peter Burkholder
At the November 2003 annual meeting of the American Musicological Society in Houston, I hosted a Presidential Forum on "The Symbiosis of Teaching and Research." I chose this theme for two reasons. At the annual meeting, AMS members spend most of our conference time talking about our research, but many of us spend most of our time at home teaching, and I thought it would be interesting and valuable to consider how the two relate in our lives and careers. From a more personal perspective, this is an issue I have been tripping over since my college days over thirty years ago.
It is one of the most common platitudes of college and university administrators that there is a close relationship between research and teaching: that good researchers must be involved in teaching, and that teaching is improved when those doing the instruction are also engaged in research. This notion is trotted out when we try to get funding from donors or state legislators, when we justify tuition hikes, and as we try to explain the set-up of the institutions many of us work in, which outsiders can have difficulty understanding. On the other hand, it is all too obvious that teaching and research compete for our time and attention. It often seems like one gets done at some cost to the other.
Yet ultimately I do find that my work as a teacher, in and out of the classroom, leads me into research and publications, and my work in research feeds back into my teaching. I have always thought of publishing a book or an article as teaching in a larger classroom, and several of my publications started life as class lectures. At the same time, my research projects change what and how I teach. I experience teaching and research as parts of a larger enterprise in which one benefits the other. In other words, the administrative platitudes are also true as lived experience for me and I think for many of us, even a source of excitement.
I thought it would be interesting to explore how this works—and sometimes does not work—in the real life of scholars and teachers. So I invited three colleagues who are well known as researchers and as leaders of scholarly societies to talk about the ways teaching and research work together in their lives: H. Wiley Hitchcock, past president of the AMS and the Music Library Association, professor emeritus at CUNY, and scholar of American and seventeenth-century music; Susan McClary, chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies and professor at UCLA, who has written broadly on gender, sexuality, conventions, and how musical meaning is constructed; and Kay Kaufman Shelemay, past president of the Society for Ethnomusicology and professor at Harvard, who has written on memory, ethnomusicological method, and musical communities in Ethiopia and Syria. Each of us spoke in turn, in alphabetical order, and then we invited observations from the floor. What follows is a transcription of our remarks, with the hope that they may stimulate further conversations.
J. Peter Burkholder
My goal in these remarks is not to consider the symbiosis of teaching and research in the abstract, or how they ought to relate, but to describe some examples of how they have worked together in my own career as a student, teacher, and researcher.
I began thinking about the relationships between teaching, research, and publication when I was in college, at Earlham College. A favorite teacher of Shakespeare gave a fabulous lecture on As You Like It. Soon afterward, while browsing for something else, I found his published article on the same subject in the college library. It felt odd, as if two worlds I thought were separate had collided. I wondered, if it was already in print, why not ask us to read and discuss it? or at least let us know where to find it?
Things changed in graduate school at the University of Chicago, where faculty routinely shared their research with students, in and out of class. When Robert P. Morgan offered a seminar on phrase rhythm in music, we read a recent article of his on the subject to kick off the seminar, followed by writings of many other scholars, and in our papers we applied and critiqued the various models they were putting forward.1 This was an exhilarating and formative experience. It was exciting to work on the cutting edge of the field, participating in a current scholarly debate.
When Howard Mayer Brown offered a seminar on borrowing in the Renaissance mass, on the first day he read his AMS Presidential Address from the previous fall, which became his article on borrowing in the fifteenth-century chanson.2 This was a pivotal seminar for me, one that almost made me into a Renaissance scholar, and part of it was the excitement of working alongside one of the great researchers in the field. My seminar paper eventually became my first conference paper, my first JAMS article, and the beginning of over two decades of work in the field of musical borrowing.3 Clearly, I found his teaching—and his research—inspiring.
In both cases, the seminars were especially engaging and fruitful, among the most memorable classes I have ever taken. Part of it was the experience of apprenticeship. The instructor brought his work in progress to us, and we were in his workshop with him—obviously not his equals, but his apprentices in a more overt way than in most classes. Whatever benefit there may have been for Bob or for Howard—which I confess I did not even think about at the time—sharing their current research with us was a great teaching tool. These classes are concrete examples in my own life of one of the platitudes we often hear on this subject: that research feeds into teaching, by modeling the activities of scholarship.
When I began teaching at the University of Wisconsin, I suddenly confronted these issues from the other side. My first graduate class was a survey of twentieth-century art music for musicology students, covering both the music and scholarship on it. I assembled my reading and listening list, but was puzzled about how to organize it. The art music of the twentieth century is so diverse, I found it difficult to design a syllabus or to articulate coherent objectives and themes for the course.
As I wrestled with this, some themes began to emerge. I realized that what all these composers had in common was that the social circumstances for music were radically changed from earlier centuries. Diverse as their music was, they all confronted the same dilemma: by the late nineteenth century, most of the space on concert programs and most of the attention of listeners were devoted to the music of the past, and living composers were forced to compete with the classical repertoire. I began to think that the diversity of twentieth-century music, and the extreme novelty of much of it, represented the different strategies composers had adopted for dealing with this common problem. Such a view also explained the strong thread of looking back to tradition and extending or reshaping it in various ways, from neoclassicism to serialism, quotation, and neoromanticism. I thought this could give me a hook to capture the students' attention on the first day and a set of themes around which to organize the course.
Gradually my opening lecture fell together, until it became a paper in draft. I emulated Howard Brown, reading the paper on the first day. It was not as great an experience for my students as Howard's paper was for us, but it worked to some extent: it articulated a central theme that we could work with during the semester, and my students helped me see how my ideas did or did not fit the music we examined. This would have remained a first-day lecture, but my colleague David Rosen encouraged me to send it to a journal—and lo, they published it, and it became my first article to see print.4
The next time I taught a twentieth-century course, instead of reading this as a lecture on the first day, I had my students read the article, so we could discuss it. This proved much more successful, and I have done it ever since, with this and other papers in both graduate and undergraduate classes. Doing this accomplishes several things:
- It is one less lecture day, one more day we can have discussion.
- I typically ask my students to discuss readings in small in-class groups before we discuss them as a whole class, so they engage the ideas with each other; it is harder to do this if I present the same ideas in a lecture.
- Since I am leading a discussion instead of giving a lecture, I can argue against my own article, or suggest other possible viewpoints, and encourage them to do the same, which makes it clear that the ideas are there to use and challenge rather than simply accept.
- Selfishly, I constantly get feedback, so my own views can grow and change.
Of course, asking my students to read my own published work is rather brazen. There is always the danger that I am simply arrogant, and that they would be better off reading other things. What I tell them is that I would be saying similar things in lectures anyway, and it is far better that they read it for themselves and have a chance to challenge and discuss it in class.
So here I have come full circle, back to my college Shakespeare professor. Even in an undergraduate classroom, if I am going to spend a class or half a class on something I have written about, I would rather have my students read it and spend class time in discussion with each other and with me, rather than giving a lecture.
This habit of mine, that class lectures become published articles, which in turn become the fodder for class discussions, has had a distinct effect on how I write. Knowing that at some point my students may read what I am writing, I try to make sure they will understand it. Since so much of what I publish begins as a class lecture or an oral paper, my writing often has an oral quality, with shorter sentences, simpler wording, more repetition of main points, and greater emphasis on clarity than it would otherwise have. The gurus on writing say you should always know your purpose and your audience, and my students give me a real-world purpose and audience to write for.
So both as a student and as a teacher, I have gained when research and teaching have been part of a single enterprise. Both my teachers and my students have helped me find my path, and for that I am eternally thankful.
The Symbiosis of Teaching and Research
H. Wiley Hitchcock
First, a confession: I thought I'd better look up that first noun. Of the definitions found in four dictionaries, clearest was that of the 4th edition of the American Heritage: "A close association between two or more different organisms, esp. when mutually beneficial."1 Wanting to find examples, I turned to the Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (with its magnifying glass). There I found a wonderful example, from an 1895 book on plants: "Several plants live symbiotically with certain . . . ants. The plants afford the ants lodging . . . and give them nourishment . . . ; the ants in return defend the foliage against the attacks of leaf-eating animals."2 Ah!!! (thought I). But as to teaching and research, which is ant and which is plant?
In this brief talk, I'd like to touch on academic teaching and research; then on non-academic teaching and research; those will lead, finally, to some comments on communication of research.
As a teaching professor for half a century, and as a musicologist working at research in various fields at various times, I would emphasize my longtime conviction of the existence—or at least the desirability—of a symbiosis between teaching and research—and of its importance. My Music in the United States, now in its 4th edition, was first published in 1969 as a textbook but has always reflected considerable research; I emphasized that in the preface to its third edition (writing in response to some reviews of earlier editions suggesting the contrary): "This is a book based on primary sources: almost without exception I have studied the scores or listened to performances of the music cited herein (or done both). My debts to other scholars, however, are many."3 I also wrote, in the preface of the very first edition (1969)—written thirty-five years ago!—"I can hardly over-emphasize the role my students have played in shaping my thought—greater, perhaps, than mine in shaping theirs—and I am ever grateful." And the latest edition, published in 2000, is specifically dedicated "To my students, who over five decades have never failed to challenge, inspirit, inspire, and indeed teach me."4
The relationship of my teaching to research has differed in courses for undergraduates from those for graduate students. A little book of the mid-1990s quoting the historian Bernard Bailyn suggests that that is true of his teaching also. Responding to the question "What is there to be said . . . about differences of approach to instruction at the various learning levels?" Bailyn remarked,
Graduate students are beginning to do what I am doing. The task is to show them techniques and to create taste and control over the material. . . . Beyond that, the task is to sensitize graduate students' minds to all sorts of creative possibilities. . . . Undergraduate teaching, on the other hand, is a very different thing . . . an effort to convey the structure of an entire subject . . . in an integrated form for intelligent, critical, but uninformed people.5
A few remarks about my own undergraduate teaching: Like most of us who have taught undergraduates, I often had to teach the same subject every year or so, over many years. A temptation was to just tote the same pack of notes, with the same recorded examples, into every repetition of the course. But rather soon I decided it was essential, in teaching my repetitive courses, to adopt a special sort of research (if I may coin a new usage for the word). That was to try never to teach a course the same way every time, but to revise it consistently—and to embody in the revisions, every time, the results of recent researches by others as well as myself, and new phonorecordings wherever possible and appropriate. Also, to emphasize how new research and new performance practice differed from earlier ones. Besides refreshment of the course (and refreshment of my teaching it), the point was, of course, to underline to undergraduates that all respectable approaches to history, including the history of music, are (or should be) new, in significant ways, and should be understood as the work of different historians, at different times, reinterpreting the past differently. (I might add, in view of my own interest in new music of our time, that it was important to me to emphasize that yesterday, as well as earlier times, is part of the historical past.)
Now to turn to my graduate teaching: Besides the usual seminar papers, I have tried to involve students in my own ongoing research. I'll give you one example among many—this one out of a seminar on early Italian Baroque music. I had persuaded Éditions Minkoff (that fine Swiss publisher of facsimiles) to reprint an open letter published about 1640 by the French gamba player André Maugars; it was his report on the modern Italian music he'd experienced during a stay in Rome for more than a year. Éditions Minkoff agreed to add to the reprint an introduction, English translation, and notes by me.6 I ended my introduction with general thanks to graduate students: first, "the students in several of my graduate seminars at the City University of New York who reacted with stimulating curiosity and comments to drafts of my translation of Maugars's Response"; then, I went on, "and especially to those who, in a New York University doctoral seminar in 1987, proposed annotations for it." (And I named each of those students, thanking them "for their help . . . (while taking full responsibility for the final annotations in both form and content)."7
Some of the greatest research scholars in the humanities have also been among the most inspiring teachers, and those most sensitive to the need for different approaches to the research efforts of different students. My friend the art historian David Rosand, professor at Columbia University, recalls the wisdom of another art historian who taught at Columbia, the late Rudolf Wittkower. Rosand has written of him,
He encouraged the intellectually ambitious student to test new fields and try new methods; he was prepared to offer the less secure student ideas and topics that he knew would yield genuinely interesting and even important results. . . . His effect was at once inspiring and catalytic.8
To turn now to what I will call non-academic teaching: Much of my intellectual life has been spent with writing outside the academy: reviews of books, concerts, and recordings; program notes for concerts and liner notes for recordings—and I would include in this category pre-concert talks, also my work as area editor and contributor to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and as chief contents-editor of "AmeriGrove."9 I consider all of these activities, which involve writing in one way or another, a species of teaching: they are addressed, however, to an audience not necessarily academic, and they have to be written with that non-academic market in mind. The research involved is literally a search—in Italian a ricerca—a search for the appropriate language. In that connection, let me borrow words by a former AMS president, Lewis Lockwood. In his valedictory presidential address of 1987 to the Society, he warned us of the limitations of what might be called "extramural discourse": "Like scholars in any field of study, we need a public to sustain us, and if we fail to contribute . . . accessible versions of our knowledge to [that public], we have no one to blame but ourselves when the job is either not done at all or is badly done by unskilled professionals."10
This leads to my last consideration: communication of research: Of no use to anybody is research without successful communication of its results. Writing, then, is critical to research, and no less critical to successful writing, or teaching, is vigorous communication, in words or other means, about the subject involved.
One master musicologist and teacher in my background (as a graduate student in Ann Arbor) was Hans T. David. He made a special point of insisting that his students strive for effective communication in writing up their research results. As Richard Crawford, another ex-student of Hans David (and of mine), has put it: "First, David advised, a writer on music must be a good musician, second, a good writer, and third, he or she 'must be no pedant.'" And Crawford describes David's choreography when giving this advice: "Beginning with eyes averted toward the floor, or gazing out a window, he gradually turned his ray upon the audience and stared sternly at class members, who uneasily searched their souls for pedantic tendencies."11
William Malm, the first ethnomusicologist to be hired at the University of Michigan, back in the early 1960s, was an even more dramatic teacher: he would always appear for the first lecture in an undergraduate course—or seminar session in a graduate course—clad in academic robes, mortarboard and all. Drama helps!
I had the good fortune, as a beginning graduate student, to enroll in a couple of School of Music classes taught by the emigré musicologist (and pioneer ethnomusicologist) Curt Sachs. (He was president of the AMS in 1950-52.) I will never forget Sachs's first appearance in an "Introduction to Musicology" seminar. He arrived late (purposely, I suspect); came in; looked around the table at every student, one by one; then, without another word, announced in a rather stentorian voice, "Plausibility is the arch-foe of science!" He repeated that slowly, twice. Then, after saying "Good morning!" to the students, he went on without further comment to tell a story about a king of ancient times:
The king's wizard had died. The king solicited applications for the job. He narrowed the field of candidates down to three, who were all invited to come to the castle on a certain day. Once arrived, they followed the king behind the castle to a lake. He pointed to something floating out in the lake. "What is it?" he asked of each candidate in turn. The first saw "a ball" in the lake. The second waited till the "ball," borne by a breeze, came closer; he then said, "It's not a ball, sire; it's an "orange." The third asked for a long pole to reach the "orange" and drag it in; given the pole, he used it to pull in the "orange" and pick it up. "It's not an orange, sire; it's half an orange. . . ." Said Sachs again, "Plausibility is the arch-foe of science." Then, having introduced himself as an imaginative, amusing, and compelling teacher, Sachs went on to speak about musicology as a sort of science and about the standards of scholarly research he would demand of us students.
Symbiosis is what research and teaching should be all about. It doesn't matter which is the plant and which the ant.
The Symbiosis of Teaching and Research
As I have moved into the ranks of senior faculty, I am frequently offered reduced course loads—or at least a diet made up exclusively of graduate seminars—as a reward. According to a logic still quite prevalent in the academy, a seminar might help advance a scholarly project, but undergraduate courses count as little more than vehicles for the transmission of basic material, a task best relegated to instructors. What my immediate colleagues know, however, is that I would rather teach on overload than let go of my large-enrollment, non-major undergraduate courses: the source of my principal ideas, the inspiration for most of my research.
Of course, the enterprise of teaching always involves the imparting of information. I have been around the block many, many more times than have my students, and I would be remiss if I failed to share with them the concrete knowledge they need to have. But like other art forms, music continues to exist because it communicates meaningfully with those with no technical expertise. The people I encounter in courses bring with them lifetimes of sophisticated and avid listening. Because I define teaching in part as enabling mutual exchange and exploration, I run all my class sessions—even those with 500 people enrolled—as discussions, and I learn at least as much during those discussions as do my students.
I have always taught this way. As a graduate student in the late 1960s, I often felt crazy, for no one ever addressed the power of music or the ways it produces meanings—the very reasons I was devoting my professional life to studying it. When I stood before my own classes as a teaching assistant, I sought confirmation that others also discerned what I heard or (even better!) understood the same patterns in ways I might never have imagined. All my critical work has emerged from this process: my account of Bach's Brandenburg No. 5, the issues concerning gender and sexuality that coalesced in Feminine Endings, my attempts at comprehending the peculiar temporality of seventeenth-century French music.1
It is often when I am explaining the most fundamental aspects of music—for example, tonality—to those still innocent of music-theory training that I confront over and over again the challenge of putting words to the experiences of those who intuitively grasp this musical grammar. Instead of trying to replace their cognitive strategies with alienating jargon, I encourage students to verbalize their ways of making sense of musical passages. As a result, I transform classroom problems into research agendas that invite even professionals to reconsider the categories and analytical devices upon which they depend, often without ever subjecting them to active thought. But I still regard my target readership as the students who first posed the questions that led to my publications—a fact I frequently acknowledge in the texts themselves. My articles all end up in my course readers, leaving a trace for future generations of the problems raised by their predecessors.
The Good Book tells us to cast our bread upon the waters, and my brilliant students of the last thirty-five years have more than rewarded me for a life dedicated to teaching. They have influenced me in ways that I can scarcely even calculate. For instance, in the mid-1980s, my most talented undergraduate, Christopher Kachian (a blues harp player turned classical guitarist), showed up in my office and announced: "OK, Mac! I've learned all the stuff you've given me. Now it's time you wised up. You're going to listen to my music!" And so this forty-year-old musicologist who had assiduously avoided popular music suddenly got pushed into the study of rock: a move that demolished the cultural hierarchy that had defined not only my work but my sense of identity. (Chris is now a concert artist and professor; I write on Madonna.) And more recently, my graduate student Stuart De Ocampo developed the theoretical concept of the musical subjunctive—a concept I find myself relying upon for nearly every repertory I encounter. Stuart is recovering from a serious automobile accident, and I am helping him develop his essay for publication: the least I can do to pay him back for the indispensable ideas he has given me.
Needless to say, I do not simply accept just anything a student may assert; sometimes I have to explain that a perception is anachronistic or just plain wrong. Still, even incorrect answers can tip me off to important issues: what can have led an intelligent listener to hear something in that particular way? And a "wrong" answer becomes the impetus for another project.
Every school year brings a new cluster of students, and as the people in my courses change from year to year, class discussions always present unexpected insights and challenges. If I don't learn something from a class session, I feel that nothing happened. When I stop learning from my students, I'll know it's time to retire.
Teaching and Research: A Virtual Ethnography of Actual Practice
Kay Kaufman Shelemay
When I began considering what I might contribute to this panel on teaching and research, a comment by a colleague in the social sciences came to mind:
"One story," he remarked, "is an anecdote; two anecdotes are data."
That was all it took to get my ethnographic juices flowing. So I drew up the short questionnaire reproduced on page 1 of your handout.1 Next I went through the most recent AMS Directory and picked 100 names, making a less-than-scientific attempt to balance them by geographical region, type of institution, gender, specialization, and career stage. I tried not to pick only my friends. Figuring, too, that I was on this panel in order to present something approaching "an ethnomusicological take" on the topic, I sent the questionnaire as a query to the SEM LIST. From there it continued to travel, due to a colleague's initiative in forwarding it to members of the Musicological Society of Australia. I have to admit that I had never done a virtual ethnography before and my modest expectation was that I would garner perhaps a dozen responses. To my astonishment, more than half (51) of the 100 AMS members I queried responded; eighteen others from the national and international ethnomusicology lists also replied. So, folks, we've got mail—and, it seems, data that can contribute to our discussion this afternoon.
Let me acknowledge the colleagues who responded to my query. Many were enormously generous in their remarks, explaining in detail their thoughts on the subject. Only two out of the total of 69 did not want their names listed, and I have included them as Anonymous 1 and Anonymous 2. The names of all the others and their institutional homes are found on the last two pages of the handout. While a few respondents indicated that they did not mind if I quoted them by name, the great majority said that they were more comfortable with the blanket acknowledgment and that they preferred for me not to attribute individual statements. So I've followed the protocol described in my initial email (included on p. 11 of the handout)—I acknowledge everyone on the list for their responses, but have otherwise maintained confidentiality in quotations.
What did I find? Let me briefly summarize the responses, taking into account that the number of responses for each question does not always add up to 69 as some individuals did not answer all of the questions. On the handout, I have excerpted a number of quotes to give you a sense of the texture of the responses—I could not incorporate as many as I would have liked—but I hope they will help honor Peter's request that we explore this subject "as concretely as possible" and provide food for thought in our discussion.
Question (1) Have you ever taught a course about your own area of research? Do you teach in your research area, however narrowly or broadly you might define that area?
54 of the 69 respondents have taught courses in some way related to their major research area. 9 others have only rarely taught materials related to their research. Only 4 said that they have not done any teaching at all in their research area.
For the vast majority of individuals who responded YES, the comments reproduced on the handout are typical of many received. One wonders if the 49 colleagues who did not answer my email query were those who do not teach in their research area, or who just feel less strongly about the issue. I suspect that someone uninterested in the symbiosis would be less motivated to respond to this questionnaire. But frankly, I am surprised at how many of us are able to bring aspects from our research into the classroom.
Question (2) Has there been a "symbiotic relationship" between teaching and research in your own academic career? Please explain briefly with an example.
55 out of the 68 respondents believe there is a symbiotic relationship between teaching and research. 11 wrote that they did not believe there to be a symbiosis, or only rarely so.
I would note that some affirmative responses about the symbiotic relationship came from those not teaching heavily in their research area and included many individuals at small colleges, not just research universities. The college/research university divide is not as strong a variable as I might have predicted or that widespread mythologies would lead one to believe. The one self-identified adjunct faculty member who responded, however, made it patently clear that part-timers have far fewer opportunities to teach in their research areas—and equally poor prospects of sustaining their research at all.
What came through most strikingly in the answers to Question 2 are the multiple ways in which teaching and research can and do interact and reinforce each other. Beyond teaching one's research materials in the classroom and conversely, encountering a question or lacuna in the classroom that spurs new or additional research, there are many more subtle interactions. I've provided selected quotes in the handout to back up these summary statements, but it seems that bringing students into the research PROCESS looms as important as bringing one's own research MATERIALS into the classroom. Ethnomusicologists speak particularly strongly about the symbiosis attained through doing fieldwork with their students.
Question (3) What are the factors that have shaped your own practice and philosophy regarding teaching and research? (These might include professional, institutional, cultural, political, personal or other factors.)
Here the answers are quite detailed and diverse. But there do emerge three top factors that have shaped practice and philosophy toward teaching among the respondents. These are:
- The impact of models, whether teachers at the undergraduate or graduate level, mentors, colleagues, or family; here people spoke passionately, many naming names of inspirational teachers/mentors;
- Institutional factors;
- Personal factors, ranging from personality to particular specialization.
Several other factors were mentioned occasionally, including economics and gender.
The colleagues who responded to this survey were from the widest spectrum of educational settings. Many responses mentioned the impact of institutional culture regarding innovation or constraints in the classroom. There was mention of the opportunities that arise from change in departmental personnel or the different types of students one needs to teach, particularly when teaching performers. I was interested that many referred to the impact of musical performance itself on the symbiosis, referring both to "performing their research in teaching" and the impact of conveying aspects of historical or ethnographic research to performers.
In some cases, symbiosis was thought to emerge from an unconscious process. Here's one memorable quote: "It (the symbiosis) also comes as a bit of a surprise, since I do not recall that my own graduate teachers ever let on to me that they derived any benefit (or pleasure) from the undergraduate courses they taught."
Question (4) Feel free to add any further observations or comments that you feel are important and that are not addressed in the three questions above.
This was my "blue sky question" and it elicited some very interesting information, including discussion of economic, ethical, and strategic factors that push one toward privileging either teaching or research. There is also an appreciation of paradoxes that emerge in the interaction of teaching and research. One individual, for example, contrasts the communal aspect of research (including feedback, jurying, discussion, promotions) with the solitary aspects of teaching—the latter usually thought of as heavily interactive! As I read through the surveys, I began to wonder if teaching musical subject matter per se is somehow distinctive or even idiosyncratic. I am left with the question if the nature of teaching and research is in fact somewhat different in music-related fields?
What lessons might we take away? What can we learn from this discussion? A central concern is what makes "good practice," to quote one respondent. Many individuals document their own symbiotic practices in detail. One of the most interesting ideas is from the colleague who sets aside a few weeks explicitly to explore new directions in pedagogy each year; another colleague purposefully teaches lateral or related subjects as a cross-check for his/her own assumptions. A third individual mentions evaluation of journal submissions and tenure decisions as part of the broader symbiosis "that I think my teaching benefited from."
Many respondents waxed poetic about their engagement in the classroom, two even comparing it to a religious experience. One respondent provided a quote from bell hooks that resonated: "The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility."2
I'd like to end with a personal statement. When Peter Burkholder invited those of us on the panel to participate today, he did so because he sensed in our work a symbiosis between teaching and research. Indeed, I have long been aware of the partnering of teaching and research in my own experience. Thinking back, my doctoral research in Ethiopian music arose from a brief reference to Ethiopian chant in a medieval music class. As I began my own life as a teacher/scholar twenty-five years ago, I think it not coincidental that my entry into the classroom marked my awakening as an ethnomusicologist to the rich musical life around me in New York City. Ever since, there has been an intense dialectic between my classroom practices and my publications. My 1998 book on music and memory within the Syrian-Jewish diaspora was sparked by a team research project I did with my graduate students at New York University a decade earlier.3 My textbook Soundscapes4 emerged from my frustration with the conventional models for teaching world music as foreign culture traditions existing only abroad. My view of the Western art music tradition has also been dramatically redrawn in an ethnographic frame; one of the most stimulating unions of research and teaching in my recent experience was a team ethnography carried out collaboratively with Harvard faculty colleagues and students, both graduate and undergraduate, with musicians in the Boston early music community. This project has reverberated in my research, resulting in an article,5 and providing new insights about the social and musical processes through which musical communities take shape. That will be the subject of my next book.
Three summary thoughts about the symbiosis of teaching and research may be distilled from these experiences and may be worth brief mention.
- Much of our historical research is, of course, based on the paper trail left behind by the pedagogical process in different times past and in different places. Ethnomusicological research is equally dependent on and wedded to pedagogy: most ethnomusicologists enter into musical ethnography by becoming students in the field.
- Much of the best teaching is collaborative, with teachers and students learning together. My own personal experience suggests that collaborative research projects enliven the classroom and can be scaled to fit the needs of virtually any institution, student level, or locale. We miss an opportunity when we do not do research together with our students.
- It is too often the case that our teaching lags behind our research in its intellectual frameworks and content. Perhaps here we experience the downside of the overwhelming influence of mentors and models as we too often replicate them, teaching only as we were taught.
In closing, I'd like to step back from the dichotomy so often invoked when discussing teaching and research and suggest that we think of their partnering in explicitly musical terms—as an on-going dance.
1Robert P. Morgan, "The Theory and Analysis of Tonal Rhythm," Musical Quarterly 54 (October 1978): 435-73.
2Howard Mayer Brown, "Emulation, Competition, and Homage: Imitation and Theories of Imitation in the Renaissance," Journal of the American Musicological Society 35 (Spring 1982): 1-48.
3J. Peter Burkholder, "Johannes Martini and the Imitation Mass of the Late Fifteenth Century," Journal of the American Musicological Society 38 (Fall 1985): 470-523.
4J. Peter Burkholder, "Museum Pieces: The Historicist Mainstream in Music of the Last Hundred Years," Journal of Musicology 2 (Spring 1983): 115-34.
1The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition (New York: Dell Publishing, 2001), s.v. "symbiosis."
2The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary / Complete Text Reproduced Micrographically (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), s.v. "symbiosis."
3H. Wiley Hitchcock, Music in the United States: A Historical Introduction, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1988), xi.
4Hitchcock, Music in the United States, 4th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2000), [xv].
5Bernard Bailyn, On the Teaching and Writing of History: Responses to a series of questions, ed. Edward Connery Lathem (Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College, 1994), 13, 14.
6André Maugars, Response faite à vn Curieux, sur le sentiment de la mvsiqve d'Italie. Escrite à Rome le premier Octobre 1639 (Paris?: ca. 1640; repr. with introduction, English translation, and notes by H. Wiley Hitchcock. Geneva: Éditions Minkoff, 1993).
7Maugars, Response (repr. Minkoff), 9-10.
8David Rosand, "Making Art History at Columbia," Columbia 25 (Fall 2003): 25-30.
9The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1980); 2nd ed., ed. Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan, 2001); The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, ed. H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie (London and New York: Macmillan, 1986).
10Lewis Lockwood, "Presidential Message," AMS Newsletter (February 1988), 3.
11Richard Crawford, "H. Wiley Hitchcock and American Music," A Celebration of American Music: Words and Music in Honor of H. Wiley Hitchcock, ed. Richard Crawford, R. Allen Lott, and Carol J. Oja (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990), 3.
1See McClary, "The Blasphemy of Talking Politics during Bach Year," Music and Society: The Politics of Composition, Performance and Reception, ed. Richard Leppert and Susan McClary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 13-62; Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991); "Temporality and Ideology: Qualities of Motion in Seventeenth-Century French Music," ECHO II/2 (Fall 2000) http://www.echo.ucla.edu/volume2-issue2/mcclary/mcclary.html .
1The handout is available at http://www.music.org/pdf/sym/shelemay.pdf.
2hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge, 1994.
3Let Jasmine Rain Down. Song and Remembrance Among Syrian Jews. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
4Soundscapes. Exploring Music in a Changing World. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001.
5"Toward an Ethnomusicology of the Early Music Movement: Thoughts on Bridging Disciplines and Musical Worlds." Ethnomusicology vol. 45, No. 1 (Winter, 2001): 1-29.
Last modified on Thursday, 04/10/2018
J. Peter Burkholder
J. Peter Burkholder is Distinguished Professor of Musicology at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He received his Ph.D. in the History and Theory of Music from the University of Chicago in 1983, after an M.A. in composition there and an A.B. in Music from Earlham College. In addition to the most recent editions of A History of Western Music and of Norton Anthology of Western Music, he is the author of Charles Ives: The Ideas Behind the Music and All Made of Tunes: Charles Ives and the Uses of Musical Borrowing and editor of Charles Ives and His World and Charles Ives and the Classical Tradition (with Geoffrey Block). His articles range from Ives to Brahms, fifteenth-century masses, Berg, Schoenberg, modernism, musical borrowing, and musical meaning, and have appeared in Journal of the American Musicological Society, Music Theory Spectrum, Musical Quarterly, Journal of Musicology, 19th-Century Music, College Music Symposium, and Music Library Association Notes, among others. He wrote the articles on Ives, on borrowing, and several on other topics for The New Grove Dictionary, 2nd ed. His research has won many awards, including the Alfred Einstein Award from the American Musicological Society, The Irving Lowens Award (twice) from the Society for American Music, and the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. He is President of The Charles Ives Society and has served as President, Vice President, and Director-at-Large of the American Musicological Society and former Board Member for Musicology for the College Music Society.