Music and the Public Good: Can Higher Education Fulfill the Challenges and Opportunities (Privileges and Responsibilities) of the 21st Century?
Published online: 1 October 2010
From its beginnings in the seventeenth century, American higher education has had a somewhat uneasy and self-conscious relationship with the world beyond the academy. Through the years, critics have sometimes invoked terms such as "real world" and "ivory tower" to suggest pejorative views of the academy as removed, idyllic, and self-serving, a place where internal priorities and politics bear little relationship with day-to-day essential public interests.
When Congress passed the Morrill Act, in 1862, it established land-grant schools that were intended to be, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, the public's universities. The Morrill Act showed a way forward for all of higher education along two primary paths: 1) promoting wider access; and 2) delivering a curriculum that built on colonial priorities of the classics and preparing learned professional men to include the practical arts and sciences, education for diverse careers, and an expanded mission of service to society. In the modern era, curriculums in most American colleges and universities moved toward amalgams of liberal education, the practical arts and sciences, and professional preparation.
More recently, as human society has become increasingly global and interdependent, higher education's relationship to the public good has again become a compelling concern. In 2000, the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities called for universities to renew their covenant with the American people and to become more productively involved with communities, however those respective communities might be defined.
A cursory tour of current websites reveals that public and private schools alike are highlighting institutional commitments to civic and community engagement as an important facet of their missions. Increasing numbers of music schools and departments are doing likewise, in some cases with the support of major funding; and institutions are creating both university-level and departmental positions to shepherd this function. Though sometimes criticized as an effort to curry political and philanthropic favor, evidence suggests that the movement is driven by a deep sense of responsibility for the common good. Many students and faculty are seeking learning cultures that resonate with their inherent desires to be actively and positively engaged with the world beyond the academy. They are pursuing this learning in symbiosis both with their career preparation and with the wider and complementary spheres that comprise the totality of their lives.
Indeed, issues of relevance, values, and ethics driven by concern for the public good are at the forefront of contemporary debate in governmental, corporate, and non-profit sectors beyond universities. Several months after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, for example, Joel Podolny (2009), former Dean of the Yale School of Management wrote that "Business schools provide students with many technical skills, but they appear to do little, or nothing, to foster responsibility and accountability. . . . students are convinced that nitty-gritty work can be done without consciously considering factors such as values and ethics. . . . business schools must demonstrate a greater affinity with society's interests. . ." According to CNNMoney.com (2008), Podolny, who completely revised Yale's MBA curriculum, has the big idea that business schools ought to teach real-life problem solving.
Increasingly, music graduates who achieve positions in major or regional orchestras or opera houses here and abroad, or in related apprentice programs, are expected, if not required, to participate in community engagement programs. These programs are embracing a far broader spectrum of mutually determined social, artistic, and educational interests than historic one-way, one-off, missionary-style outreach and education efforts. And free-lance musicians are finding that grant applications require evidence of ways in which musical work benefits a wider goal of community well-being.
On becoming Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the 1960s, John Gardner, former head of the Carnegie Foundation, spoke of breathless opportunities masquerading as insoluble problems (1965). If we, in higher music learning, miss this breathtaking opportunity to align the preparation of 21st century musicians with this cross-sectoral, international movement for the public good, we risk validating accusations of irrelevance. Inevitably, some will charge that such a broadened perspective may represent dumbing down the curriculum. I concur with those who, by contrast, aver that what is really at work is a long overdue wising up to important realities about the future of music and musicians, perhaps even music schools, in society.
Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus (2010), authors of a recent provocative analysis of higher education, observe that "Professors are often isolated not only from those outside their disciplines, but also from the outside world" (p. 18). After taking aim at everything from escalating tuition to overpaid star professors, tenure, and navel-gazing faculty who teach only their own research without regard for the needs of students, Hacker and Dreifus make a simple suggestion for improvement: those who choose higher education as a profession ought to view it as a public service (p. 242). "We want young people to use their minds as they never have before," they say, "thinking hard about realities and issues that strain their mental powers. They should be urged to be imaginative and inquiring, to take risks without having to worry about their transcripts or alienating their teachers" (p.7).
As one example, they describe a two-semester sociology and criminology program entitled Community Organizing and Community Action: "In the first term, the students read Saul Alinsky and Stanley Aronowitz. In the second, the kids [go] out and organize a tenants' union" (p. 233).
Hacker and Dreifus are not right-wing thinkers. If you read The Economist, you may be familiar with the Schumpeter column, named in honor of the brilliant 20th century Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter, who is credited with popularizing the term entrepreneurship. The September 4th (2010) column notes that Hacker's and Dreifus's liberally oriented criticisms surprisingly align with those of two conservative think tanks – the American Enterprise Institute and the Goldwater Institute. Considering these criticisms as a whole, the column poses the ominous question, "Could America's universities go the way of its car companies" (p. 74).
I spent some time reflecting, as a music faculty member and administrator, on one of Hacker's and Dreifus's more pointed criticisms, one that echoes Joel Podolny's charge about business schools. The criticism is that too much of higher education is little more than technical-level vocational training. Relieved that they didn't mention music schools, I initially took solace in the fact that majoring in music is often viewed as an avenue of fulfillment for talented persons who seek to pursue their passions for music through higher learning. Within this widely circumscribed and supremely innocuous vision, we have strived to nurture knowledge and skill to support the option of earning a sustainable, or at least partially sustainable, living in and through music. In most cases, this has meant some assumed composite of teaching, performing, and perhaps conducting or composing. However, one prestigious American university honestly acknowledges on its website that many of its music majors do not go on to careers in music, but use the major as a last opportunity to engage in musical studies before plunging into demanding careers such as law, business, and medicine, that leave little or no time for music.
My reflective process reminded me that our current predilection for advocacy may lead us to latch onto arguments for the socio-economic importance of the arts, such as Richard Florida's (2002) creative economy ideas and Daniel Pink's (2005) assertion that creative empathizers will have a competitive economic edge in the 21st century. Nevertheless, music schools are not typically inclined toward extolling financial advantages as a benefit of earning music degrees. On further thought, I realized that neither are we inclined as faculty to engage actively with public policy affecting the arts. Moreover, it would be difficult to argue that we are universally committed to a circumspect, well-articulated vision of music and musicians in twenty-first century society. At this point, I recalled the words of Henry Fogel in his speech to NASM in November, 2009. Henry posed this question: ". . .are we preparing [music] students to go forward in this world and help to shape the America of the 21st Century?" (italics added)
The problem with reflective thinking is that it can lead you places you didn't know you were going – sometimes into a messy swamp rather than speeding along a multi-lane expressway. I found myself confronting a discomfiting conundrum: despite the emphasis music schools place on the accrual of technical skill and knowledge in music performance, creation, and scholarship, there is an historic and epic absence of realistic career talk. I'm not talking here about "job talk." I'm talking about career talk based on a dynamic convergence of music as public value and the capacities of graduates to forge sustainable career pathways in tandem with advancing the place of music and musicians in society.
We know very well that a music degree is not a prerequisite for singing on the Met stage or conducting the Cleveland Orchestra or even, as it is in many fields, teaching in higher education. As one doctoral conducting student is said to have inquired of his mentor, "Why do I need a degree . . . Zubin Mehta doesn't have one?" To which the mentor is said to have replied, "that, son, is precisely why you DO need a degree!"
It's hardly a secret that the vast majority of performance, composition, theory, and musicology graduates will teach. Yet, how does this fact manifest itself in our curriculums? Through rigorous guided teaching internships? Systematic graduate assistant mentoring? By requiring our students to think seriously about issues of learning and teaching, and their identities as artist-scholar-teachers? By urging them to consider their roles in a larger context of responsibility for the musical well-being of their communities?
Perhaps in some places. But, generally speaking, higher music learning emphasizes singular absorption in ever higher levels of technical mastery to the near exclusion of any consideration of the diverse settings and audiences where that technical understanding might potentially be applied. Depth in one's discipline is essential; and self-absorption may be tolerable among superstar scholars and performers, though many of today's superstars are smartly realizing the importance of connecting more meaningfully with audiences. But unbridled self-absorption becomes a severe handicap and a potential recipe for lifelong victimization and angst among those who might otherwise realize fulfilling careers by embracing teaching and public service.
Twyla Tharp wrote in her book, The Creative Habit (2003), about the longed-for lucky break that characterizes the self-absorbed desire that we will become recognized – for our artistry, scholarship, or teaching. Tharp said, “If you want to be lucky, be generous. . . .If you’re generous to someone, if you do something to help him [or her] out, you are in effect making [that person] lucky. . . .Whenever I feel I'm working in a groove, it’s invariably because I feel I am being the benefactor in the situation rather than the beneficiary” (p. 136). In the case of music, the problem may be less that we've been overtly vocational and more that technical training has too often been an end in itself, the products of which have historically been left to graduating students to determine on their own terms, or on the basis of their own luck. As University of Rochester President Rush Rhees declared on the founding of the Eastman School in 1921, "educated musicians should be much more than expert musical technicians" (as cited in Seligman, 2010).
We thus find ourselves at a critical juncture as to whether a curricular model and assumptions that evolved concurrently with a desire to advance classical music in the twentieth century will be sufficient for the challenges of a very different musical world in the twenty-first century. Sean Gregory, director of Creative Learning for the new innovative collaboration between London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Barbican Centre, has written:
The twenty-first century brings an era of 'non-definability' – culturally, artistically, socially . . . . The new concept of the 'all-round' musician who performs traditional and commissioned repertoire, who improvises freely and within collectively composed frameworks, collaborates with other artists, draws on non-European influences and embraces technology will be relatively uncharted territory for some, particularly for those in the conservatoire sector. . . (2005, pp. 19, 21)
Gunther Schuller spoke similarly at the dedication of the new School of Music building on the University of Minnesota campus in 1985:
I am a populist who sees the potential of our culture as a brotherhood/sisterhood of musics: folk, ethnic, vernacular, new or old, improvised or written down, classical or contemporary. In my vision, all of these musics coexist, cohabiting and crossfertilizing, living together in peace and harmony.
Since 2004, IBM has been sponsoring biennial global surveys of over 1500 corporate and public-sector executives. The most recent study, published this year, is entitled Capitalizing on Complexity (2010), and its findings sound a lot like Gregory's "non-definability." Executives reported that the biggest challenge they face is a rapid escalation of complexity arising from accelerating levels of global interdependency. And for addressing this complexity? Creativity is the most important competency. ". . .Creativity," they said, "has become a more important leadership quality than attributes like management discipline, rigor, or operational acumen" (IBM, 2010, p. 4).
I want to be clear that I do not typically embrace business models as the most appropriate source of ideas and strategies for the arts and education complex in which most of us live and work. Nevertheless, I find it intriguing that the issues of complexity, interconnectedness, and creativity coming from a corporate-sector survey cut incredibly close to the rapidly escalating debate occurring in higher music education around intersections among relevance, engagement, leadership, creativity, and entrepreneurship.
In terms of complexity, or non-definability, more music is now available to more people in more ways than at any time in the history of the human race. Many of our incoming students reflect that reality. Their interests cross classical, jazz, and popular boundaries, and they often navigate this palette easily and without judgmental comparisons. They are acquainted with non-Western musics and the intersections between those and Western traditions; they know indie music and artists; they have composed and written songs and recorded them and played them in garage bands; they have improvised, shared music through social networking, and developed discriminating ears relative to their preferences. They recognize that there are social and political dimensions to the musical art, and they can be amazingly astute and articulate about music as an expression of human transcendency exceeding our verbal capacities. (This, of course, is also true of adolescents at-large.)
And they are in good company. Consider, for example, Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, Daniel Barenboim's West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Venezuela's El Sistema, Miles from India (the pan-global recording of Miles Davis's music), Sing for Hope, a non-profit in which professional artists volunteer in schools, hospitals, and communities, and hundreds of other projects and programs around the globe. Today's music world beyond the academy is a vividly, explicitly rich and dynamic mix of musical, social, and political influences. Whether on airplanes or subways, jogging, golfing, or working in the office, people are connected to their personally downloaded and compiled playlists through the ubiquity of earphones. There are neighborhood music listening clubs and intergenerational music camps to learn to play rock guitar, on-line music lessons and games receiving hundreds of thousands of hits a year, music commissioning groups in cities across the U.S., and growing enrollments in many community music schools. The question is this: in what ways is higher music education acknowledging and capitalizing on this complexity for the future of serious music and musicians in society?
Drew University professor Leonard Sweet noted in his little book, The Gospel According to Starbucks (2007), that premodern culture was one in which everyone made music; modern culture found more people watching others make music; and postmodern culture moved toward performer and audience sharing the experience of making music. Former National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Bill Ivey and his colleague, Steven Tepper, wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2006 about a growing renaissance of personal art making and creative practices made possible by new technologies and the growth of a do-it-yourself ethos. In Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America's Cultural Life (2008), Tepper and Gao contend that data on artistic practice show fewer negative relationships with barriers of age, income, and education than attendance data.
Nevertheless, much has been made in the professional arts world this last year about the troubling data in the NEA's most recent Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (2009). In 2008, the lowest rates of attendance among all art forms combined were in classical and jazz music, Latin or salsa music, and opera. Opera and jazz attendance rates fell below those of 1982, and classical music attendance dropped 29 percent since 1992, with the steepest decline occurring in the last six years. Attendance among adults between 45 and 54, traditionally a large component of the arts-attending public, showed the steepest declines among all age groups.
One IBM survey participant noted that, "Complexity should not be viewed as a burden . . . rather as a catalyst and an accelerator to create innovation and new ways of delivering value." Sean Gregory said something similar about the world of higher music learning: "arts and educational organisations are now in a position to become cultural catalysts, encouraging learning environments that offer the widest possible access to participation in the arts without compromising reputations and aspirations for excellence" (2005, p.19).\
In the IBM study, three major strategies emerged for dealing with complexity: (1) embody creative leadership; (2) reinvent customer (or constituent) relationships; and (3) build operating dexterity. The first -- creative leadership -- was defined as disruptive innovation that abides ambiguity and experimentation and challenges legacies on balance with knowing what works over time. In the mid-1990s, when the Eastman School took a risk in curricular change leading to its arts and music leadership programs, it was disruptive innovation of an honored legacy that helped address students' transitions from the conservatory to the real world. This disruption moved Eastman into a collaborative space with major professional organizations in strategizing for the future of music and musicians in society; and it led the way for serious nationwide consideration of how music graduates not only find, but create, successful career trajectories. Many of us, endeavoring to be collegial, may shy away from disruptive innovation; yet we all know that a vehicle can never move forward unless there is friction between the tires and the road.
It should be noted that, prior to the institutes, Eastman had been discussing from the mid-1980s a requirement that every undergraduate develop a project to foster interest in music among an audience that does not normally attend concerts. That discussion led to the Music for All program, requiring chamber music groups to present 2 supervised programs in a variety of school and community settings. Eastman's website indicates 34 schools, businesses, and community and social agency sites, where 2000 people last spring interacted with Eastman students in 90 programs provided by 40 chamber groups.
My point is this: the growing complexities of the music world offer unprecedented opportunities for music faculties to rethink current assumptions about internal curriculum and its relationship to the world beyond the academy; to implement related and radical curriculum redesign; to pursue collaborative leadership with community and professional institutions; to encourage interchange with a wide variety of arts and non-arts disciplines; and to demonstrate tangible commitment to the humanizing values of music in the lives and learning of all people.
The breathless convergence of these opportunities must embrace new media; new forms and products of creative expression; new audiences across ethnic, age, and socio-economic boundaries; new accessibilities and entry points to music, such as free improvisation; new ways of teaching and learning; and new ways of conceptualizing and manifesting relationships between high-level preparation and the realization of music careers. Henry Fogel proposed to NASM that music schools should be active in exerting leadership and research to address issues such as creating and sustaining audiences, developing engaging concert formats, and undertaking experimental programs to test how musicians interact most successfully with diverse communities.
As only one case in point, the Knight report (Wolf, 2006), The Search for Shining Eyes, stated clearly that "The problems of orchestras stem not from the music they play but from the delivery systems they employ," and, further, that "Orchestras that are not relevant to their communities are increasingly endangered" (p. 49). Yet, ironically, most music schools continue to enculturate students into the very model of professional public performance that research tells us needs improvement in terms of its relevance to audiences and its ability to invite new audiences, or even sustain its current ones.
Taking such a matter seriously, music faculties might collaborate with the social sciences, policy institutes, business schools, and professional music organizations around experimentation with new concert formats and the incubation of models that involve students actively in making the concert experience more invitatory, more engaging, and less stilted. This would provide a perfect opportunity for students to synthesize high level performance skills, analytical and musicological understanding, and building relational models between audience and performer in standard repertoire, ethnic music, and newly composed music. It might actually provide an avenue to get music faculty to think and act collaboratively. Such models might begin to interrupt the cycle of elitist patronage, over-reliance on upper middle class subscribers, and segregated audiences that too frequently characterize our concert halls. The win-win is that, not only do musicians increase their value and the perceived value of music, they also equip themselves to deal with the realities of a changing world, which in turn enhances the likelihood of more sustained careers.
Let me assure you, these ideas are not about dumbing down the concert-going or music school experience by pandering to the lowest common denominator; rather, they are about wising up to inventive ways to assure the future of serious art and serious musicians by advancing the values we all espouse for the greater good. It might be useful to recall Pierre Boulez's comments when asked in 1999 why so few major works of the 1950s and 1960s had become repertory pieces, "Well, perhaps we did not take sufficiently into account the way music is perceived by the listener" (as cited in Ross, 2007, p. 571).
Getting closer to the customer was the second important strategy executives in IBM's study saw for meeting their goals in the next five years (p. 38). That resonates with what the RAND Corporation has said in several arts reports (McCarthy & Jinnett, 2001; McCarthy, Ondaatje, Zakaras & Brooks, 2004) issued during this decade: that broadening and deepening arts participation and support is a function of engaging and high-quality interactions between artists and a diverse array of constituents.
The most immediate constituent group is our students, whose achievements we rely on to carry forth the values of music in the wider world. The sentiments of this email, which I received from a student several weeks ago, will likely sound familiar:
Dear Dr. Myers,
I am a recent Master's graduate of the School of Music. I came from Australia to study with Dr. X and have learned so much - a wonderful teacher with vast experience. My concern upon graduation is that I have a high level of musical proficiency but that I lack a lot of the training and non-musical skills to convert my artistry into a fruitful career. I see many of my graduate colleagues struggling with these same issues and resorting to menial jobs outside of music to make ends meet. These part-time jobs often turn into full time jobs and as a result, creative fervor is quashed. This is a horrible waste and of great concern to me.
I would really like to set up a time to speak with you about these issues as I believe that changes at the University level can really have a huge impact. The University has so many talented musicians; it would be wonderful to set them up with the skills and knowledge to convert their artistic brilliance into careers in which they can share their talents and give back to the community.
I was particularly pleased about the last several words in this student's message: and give back to the community. IBM found that "The most successful organizations co-create products and services with customers, and integrate customers into core processes" (p. 9). Last academic year, during a series of meetings with students about some of our looming budgetary concerns, I heard consistent messages regarding their desires to contribute value to their communities. The growing energy around entrepreneurship in many of our schools is not only important in terms of our seriousness about careers and public value, but it also offers significant opportunities to co-create curriculum with students based on the goals and desires they are already articulating, or on an awakening of their own potential for advancing music in society.
I offer one caveat, however, in this regard. We must exercise due caution not to promote simplistic notions regarding knowledge in areas such as music business, grant writing, marketing and engagement that revert to yet another layer of technical knowledge for advocacy of the status quo, or as a proposed survival toolkit in a tough market. What is paramount is a larger values-based context that looks beyond "what is" toward "what is possible," and that instills the kinds of initiative, adaptability, and commitments to lifelong professional learning that can both create and accommodate change. As IBM suggests, creativity is a more important commodity in today's complex world than technical knowledge and skills that may rapidly approach obsolescence.
Schumpeter's view of entrepreneurship was innovation for change that created value for the customer, and thus demand. If, in the mode of Annie, our message to students is that they'd better prepare for the hard-knock life of the industry and gain the salesmanship skills to convince people to buy what we're selling, rather than the ability to innovate in ways that add value and create public demand for music, then we are playing directly into the criticism leveled by Hacker and Dreifus and others that higher education is little more than short-term vocational training.
A few weeks ago, Damian Kulash, a graduate of Brown University and lead singer and guitarist for the Chicago-based rock group OK Go, frequently heard on NPR, wrote in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that in the music industry, "Creativity and innovation take a back seat to money, and everyone loses, even the big guys. They have insulated themselves from change for so long that they've dug their own grave. . . Now the big record companies have made themselves obsolete . . ." (September 4, 2010, p. A15). Learning technical skills simply to conform to an industry, whether profit or non-profit, that has been unable to reinvent itself creatively for the public good in a changing world, compromises goals for entrepreneurship programs in what should be the humanizing field of music. Kulash believes the internet may be a leveler in this regard, but only if it remains a neutral idiom. That is the kind of reality our students need to be confronting as they look toward their careers in music.
Another group of constituents exists in the world of professional musicians and music organizations with whom we may logically collaborate to strategize widening access and enhanced public value for music. Increasingly, we have opportunities to learn lessons from models such as Community MusicWorks, the professional string quartet that is committed to meaningful long-term relationships with under-represented children and families in urban neighborhoods of Providence, RI. In 2009, MusicWorks founded its Institute for Musicianship and Public Service, which assists musicians in other communities to enhance their own public-service capacities. In Europe, a new international consortium of five music schools has implemented a Master of Music degree for New Audiences and Innovative Practice, a degree that prepares students to create new audiences and develop leadership skills in various artistic and social contexts. Collaborative leadership between professional musicians and music schools for the public good remains to be exploited as a change agent for institutionalizing the values of music we advocate in our communities and the broader society.
Finally, of course, our constituents are the public, the wider society who we seek to engage in our school and departmental events, and who our graduates will ultimately serve. In what ways do we model and encourage multiple entry points for them, linking university music schools and departments with underserved communities, and designing access for diverse constituents? To what extent do we invite their engaged dialogue around their inherent musical intrigue? Evidence would suggest that though people are seeking music engagement in large numbers, too few high-quality opportunities exist for people to satisfy their craving for continued music learning and understanding. Where does one go after burning out on Guitar Hero? Having already talked a great deal about the role of music schools in this regard, I will suggest only that the famous quote capturing the spirit of Ghandi's words is something we might all take seriously: Be the change you want to see in the world.
The third creative strategy that emerged in the IBM study was maintaining operating dexterity. The report notes that "Complex operating structures too often degrade to an overly and unnecessarily complicated state" (p. 52). It's no secret that higher education generally, and music schools in kind, are encumbered by levels of course inflation and escalating requirements that can impede degree progress and lead to programmatic silos. Though we may honor the importance of participatory governance, committees can too often become a way of locking down progress and protecting turf in the name of assuring rigor and integrity. And though, when it works as it should, the tenure process may indeed offer the imprimatur of productivity that brings job security in the academy, we know full well that this process has become far too politicized, frequently thwarting the disruptively innovative efforts of those seeking to bridge the traditional divide between higher education and the public good.
It may seem paradoxical, but a simplified, streamlined, logically integrated curriculum that balances skills with conceptual understanding, instills attitudes of concern for music and the public good, and encourages a sense of inquiry for self-directed learning may serve students better than a vast array of highly specialized courses – too many of which represent professorial rather than student interests. Moreover, such a curriculum may more nimbly respond to and anticipate change beyond the academy. As we move toward increasingly sophisticated, real-world understanding of the multiple and complementary kinds of knowledge our students will need, we will have to make challenging decisions about reshaping the longstanding curricular principles that have guided our programs. Above all, thinking back to the words of Hacker and Dreifus, we will need to accept our rightful responsibility for encouraging young people to use their minds as they never have before, thinking hard about realities and issues that strain their mental powers, and being imaginative and inquiring risk-takers. That is not a typical practice in the master-apprentice model of artist preparation; however, in the words of Kahlil Gibran, "[The teacher] who is indeed wise does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind" (1926, p. 51).
As I thought about the title of my comments today, it occurred to me that perhaps, rather than challenges and opportunities, I should have suggested that the situation we confront is one of privileges and responsibilities. I would hope that all of us count it a great privilege to work with aspiring career musicians, as well as all those who seek to advance their musical knowledge and skill, and that we would take our responsibilities to our art and its relationship to public value very seriously.
Thanks to President Taggart's theme of community engagement for the 2010 CMS National Conference, there are many sessions offering models of ways to connect music with diverse audiences. In the final analysis, we must all decide, within our own contexts, whether and how we will embrace the complex challenges of this century.
Jim Collins, author of Good to Great (2005), has found in his research that great institutions are clear about their core values, know what they do well, have the discipline to make decisions on the basis of their values, and are committed to a cause greater than themselves. For us, I would submit that the greater cause is our shared conviction in the value that music may bring to the universal condition of being human, to being in relationship with one another in an increasingly diverse and too frequently polarized world, and for encouraging creative, intuitive and empathic understanding in a global and interdependent society. In the words of novelist and painter Henry Miller (Moore, 1964, p. 110), "Art is only a means to . . . the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way, something which is often overlooked by the artist.. . . In becoming an end, [art] defeats itself."
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Last modified on Monday, 11/11/2013
David Myers, Professor, is an internationally regarded music educator and proponent of innovation in higher music education. Prior to coming to the University of Minnesota in 2008, he founded the Center for Educational Partnerships and its groundbreaking Sound Learning partnership among Georgia State University, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, community musicians, and inner-city schools. A former public school teacher and accomplished organist, he has been the American consultant for a joint Master of Music degree for New Audiences and Innovative Practice among five European conservatories. He has served as panel chair and panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and keynoted numerous meetings, including the League of American Orchestras national convention, the International Research in Music Education Conference at the University of Exeter (UK), and the national meeting of the College Music Society. He has published, presented, and consulted widely, including work with the National Association of Schools of Music, the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, Opera America, the Music Educators National Conference, the College Music Society, and the International Society for Music Education. He has served as author and editor for sections on lifelong learning and school-community partnerships in two major music education handbooks. He currently serves on the editorial committees of the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education and the International Journal of Community Music. His 1996 research for NEA, Beyond Tradition: Partnerships Among Orchestras, Schools, and Communities, remains a seminal publication in the field. Dr. Myers's work has been recognized by the Atlanta Partners in Education and in Harvard Project Zero's study, Qualities of Quality. He received both the junior and senior outstanding faculty awards from the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia State University, as well as the 2008 Distinguished Career Award from the Georgia Music Educators Association. In 2010, his biography was included in the New Groves Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edition. As an evaluator, he has conducted research for the League of American Orchestras on the Orchestra Leadership Academy, the Institutional Vision Program, the Ford Made in America program, and the American Conducting Fellows Program. In addition to NEA, his work has been funded by the Texaco Foundation, the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, and the Cousins Foundation. Currently, he serves as a Governing Board member of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Dr. Myers has been a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in 1993 was a visiting professor in the Sydney (AUS) Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney. He holds degrees from Lebanon Valley College, the Eastman School of Music, and The University of Michigan.