Reading and Writing: The Pedagogy of the Renaissance – A Report

During the first weekend of June, 2005, over 160 musicologists, distinguished scholars in sister disciplines, students, and members of the community convened at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, for an international conference on the pedagogy of the Renaissance, specifically the “Student, the Study Materials, and the Teacher of Music, 1470-1659.”


With the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and private donors, musicologists Susan Weiss of Peabody Conservatory, Cynthia Cyrus of Vanderbilt University, and Russell Murray of the University of Delaware directed three

days of scholarly sessions, roundtable discussions, and musical performances.


At the George Peabody Library, an exhibition: Art, Science, Spirit, Soul: Mastering Music in the Renaissance, provided an excellent complement to the presented scholarship and performances of early music. Organized by five themes— The Renaissance Rediscovery of Ancient Music Theory, The Relationship of Music to the Other Liberal Arts, Evidence of Music Literacy, Music Manuals and Other Contemporary How-To Books, and Representations of Musicians and Instruments—the exhibit featured early printed books and other instruments of learning from major collections in the Baltimore-Washington region: the Johns Hopkins University’s Friedheim and Sheridan Libraries, the Walters Art Museum, the Library of Congress, and the Folger Shakespeare Library.


Keynote addresses by musicologist James Haar of the University of North Carolina, historian Anthony Grafton of Princeton University, and musicologist Jessie Ann Owens of Brandeis University framed a weekend of valuable forums for
discussion on a variety of topics, including "the Materials of Teaching," "Teaching's Role and Place," "Theorists and Composers as Teachers," "Performance as Pedagogy," "(Re)Using the Printed Page," "Treatises and Musical Sources," "Institutions and Their Teachers," "The Goals of the Teacher," and "Philosophy and Pedagogy: Pedagogy in Action."

Although focused on music pedagogy, the conference was fittingly interdisciplinary in scope and included scholarship in the fields of visual art, poetry and history. Participants particularly benefited from a roundtable discussion entitled "Other Arts, Other Pedagogies," and the insights of art historians and scholars from other sister disciplines, including Peter Lukehart, Andrew Morrall, Leopoldine Prosperetti, Elizabeth Rodini, William Noel, Griffith Mann, Stephen Nichols and John Buchtel. The weekend closed with a lively performance by the Baltimore Consort, featuring counter-tenor José Lemos and an all-Spanish repertoire of romances, villancicos and improvisations, c. 1500.

For further interest, this conference served as the foundation for a volume of essays and an electronic bibliographic database - projects sponsored in generous part by a Collaborative Research Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Publication of the volume of collected essays is expected in 2006. 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 08/05/2013

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