Music in General Studies
Published online: 1 May 2006
The College Music Society'continues its focus on our profession's commitment to providing education in music to those regularly referred to by us as non-music majors. Featuring articles from current and former Board Members for Music in General Studies (MGS), as well as from other persons of high expertise in the area, this issue is particularly timely. As you will read in these articles, the next few years will mark the 25th anniversary of the birth of Music in General Studies as a focus within the Society in tandem with similar efforts by the National Association of Schools of Music. Wingspread and Dearborn are places that pepper the essays and for good reason: it was at seminal gatherings in these locations on either side of Lake Michigan in the early 1980s that deep consideration was first given to (1) our profession's need to develop educated audience members, (2) helping more folks experience music more profoundly, and (3) the scholarly methodology of teaching Music in General Studies.
We now have 25 or so years of work to evaluate and reflect upon as we endeavor to contemplate what comes next for MGS. This issue of the Newsletter reveals that there are many exciting initiatives under way and lots of good ideas about the future of MGS. I would like to take this opportunity to offer two ideas.
First, though nearly every music unit in higher education describes itself in its mission as having some degree of commitment to the education in music of the general college student, most schools that offer professional degrees in music still in practice undervalue music study by the non-music student. They do this by assigning such courses to faculty who are, at best, not trained in teaching music and musical listening to non-musicians, and who are, at worst, our least experienced
or most marginalized teachers. Further, for financial reasons, many such institutions assign these courses to adjunct faculty whose preparation and purposes may be solid, but who are none-the-less not as vested in the mission of the unit as the
full-time faculty. All of these phenomena were true at the time of Wingspread in 1981 and they remain largely true today. This must change, and hopefully the focus emerging on MGS pedagogy at the graduate level will help us create more faculty
positions at all types of institutions whose scholarly and teaching focus is music for the non-musician.
Secondly, how we teach the music and listening skills we want general students to know is certain to undergo transformation. Music is everywhere, and students today seek and obtain musical experiences largely in non-concert, completely self-contained, unique environments rather than in live or in traditional recorded formats. This new paradigm requires us to re-evaluate methods and materials for helping students encounter music with the power to affect them deeply, and they will expect to make these encounters using their own technologies and in their own time. How can the technology employed by these students be harnessed as a teaching tool itself? Today's college students are so connected to the music that they already love that many instructors believe that to help students learn to encounter more music more deeply it is essential to begin by teaching a greater knowledge and broader appreciation of the music they already love. We need more methodologies that focus on that goal, and we need to make sure tomorrow's music faculty learn these, too. Surely we can help students understand and appreciate more music through their own means and their own music, even if part of this help will be to introduce them to the life-altering experience of live performance of highly expressive music.
Last modified on Tuesday, 07/05/2013
C. Tayloe Harding, Jr.
Tayloe Harding is a composer and music administrator and Dean of the School of Music at the University of South Carolina. A passionate advocate for advancing the impact of higher education music study and experience on American communities and national society, he is devoted to an array of organizations whose missions are consistent with this advocacy. As President of the College Music Society from 2005-2006, he led the creation of the Engagement and Outreach Initiative where the efforts of the music professoriate are articulated with a variety of national constituencies, including other higher education disciplines and populations, music businesses and industries, and general audiences all in an effort to meet common musical and civic goals. He was a founding member of the leadership teams for the Brevard Conference on Music Entrepreneurship (BCOME), the Round Top Roundtable: The Next Generation of Music Leadership in America and the National String Project Consortium. As Dean at South Carolina he has brought a bold idea to fruition: to more fully prepare tomorrow’s professional musicians by combining conventional professional music study with a systematic curricular exploration of music advocacy, music entrepreneurship, and community engagement in music by forming the Carolina Institute for Leadership and Engagement in Music. An active member of and consultant for NASM, CMS, SCI, and ASCAP, he is a frequent presenter on issues facing the future of university music units and their leadership, and remains active as a composer earning commissions, performances, and recordings for his works around the world.