The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) has begun a multi-year review of its standards that are the basis for institutional program accreditation. This review will be a draft and redraft process based on comments on the standards proposal that will then supercede the current Handbook. The first now being considered are the Graduate Standards to be followed by the Undergraduate and Operational Standards. So as to have as comprehensive a review as possible the Association has asked several professional organizations to participate. In response, President Harding has appointed a Task Force to review these standards and collect input from CMS members that will become part of this process. The members are James Briscoe, Judith Coe, Scott Lipscomb, Severine Neff, James Parakilas, Brenda Romero, Cynthia Taggart, and Robert Werner.

Although not all of the Societys members teach in an institution that offers graduate degrees, all have some association with these programs either by preparing students that go on to graduate study or themselves having been graduates of these programs that prepare the faculty of our institutions. Thus, this review also offers an appropriate time to reevaluate how a graduate education prepares its graduates for the varied responsibilities expected of those entering the professoriate, particularly for most entry positions.

Graduates of our baccalaureate programs enroll in masters degree programs where their success is usually dependent upon the preparation they received in their undergraduate study. Thus, this periodic review and revision of degree standards is a responsibility of the entire academic music community. It represents an opportunity for music faculty to become familiar with the standards that are being developed to provide a national norm based on mutually accepted practice. They are intended to provide a more holistic framework for all study while at the same time assuring the accepted level of skills and understandings of each of the subdisciplines.

Faculty members are also encouraged to periodically review their own institutions degree programs as to the availability of institutional resources as well as the relevance of each in regard to the expertise and interest of the current faculty. This is a responsibility that goes beyond institutional accreditation and more to the accountability of the entire discipline.

The request for faculty participation in NASMs review process is certainly a recognition of the fact that curriculum only comes to life as it is realized by each professors interaction with studentswhether in the classroom, studio or rehearsal hall. All syllabi, curricular guides and standards are primarily agreed upon statements of outcomes until they are realized through the teacher, whether that be a graduate assistant or a distinguished professor.

Faculty may comment on the new proposed standardsupdated drafts as they are now found on the NASM website. To learn about purposes, protocols and schedules, and to participate in the standards review, go to: http://nasm.arts-accredit.org and click on the Standards Review in the navigational menu at the top of the home page. The Graduate Standards most recent draft will be found under the Comprehensive Standards Review section. If you are not familiar with NASMs philosophy concerning standards and reviews, go to the Search Site and enter philosophy. Do not send comments directly to NASM.

Society members may send comments to the CMS Standards Task Force at its web-site www.music.org/gsr from now until the end of May. In addition to this direct response, faculty in NASM institutions are strongly encouraged to share their comments with their representative to NASM, usually the music administrator, who will be attending hearings each November and eventually voting on standards changes. The goal is to ensure that the Associations standards represent the most current consensus on threshold requirements while leaving as much freedom as possible for individual faculty, institutions, and programs to pursue excellence in their own ways.

CMS members are encouraged to take advantage of this important opportunity to play a significant role in this review process. Too often faculties seem to believe that some anonymous body, that does not fully appreciate the perspective of the professoriate, sets these norms. Well, now is the time to lay such beliefs aside and join in this exercise of shared responsibility.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 08/05/2013

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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