Campus Focus: Music At Harpur

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The State University of New York comprises sixty-seven colleges and centers with a full time enrollment exceeding 100,000 students. Founded in 1948, the State University of New York has grown rapidly in the 1960's under a master plan designed to meet the great increase in the State's educational needs.

The State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY-Binghamton) is one of four major university centers of the State University of New York. The Binghamton campus provides undergraduate instruction in the liberal arts through its original component, Harpur College.

Because Harpur is a liberal arts college its program in music has several objectives. First, we hope to provide the general college student with the genuinely musical experience of participation in musical organizations (Choir, Collegium Musicum, Orchestra, Chamber Ensembles, etc.). Second, we offer a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in music. Within this program the student receives work in the theory, history, and performance of music.

At the graduate level the department currently offers work leading to the Master of Arts degree and the Master of Science in Teaching degree. In both of these programs composition, history and theory of music are stressed. It is expected that the Master of Arts in Teaching degree will also be offered in 1968. As a part of a developing university center the graduate program offerings in music will be expanded by 1970.

The basic philosophy behind the curriculum offered by the Department is the concept of completeness of the musical experience. In our time access may be had to a range and wealth of music and its materials undreamed of in even the recent past. The working space of the department is so disposed that these are constantly in the awareness of the student; scores and discs and reference materials are maintained in close proximity. A chief resource, the faculty is also very directly accessible to the student and a most congenial and work-fostering atmosphere results.

Daily contact outside the classroom leads to more effective work within it; indeed the boundaries disappear and the mutual teaching-learning is continuous and can become complete: the "human" in humanism can be retained.

While a major premise in the educational philosophy of the Harpur Music Department is the belief that a meaningful program in music must emphasize the importance of the art as a humanistic discipline, it also recognizes the paramount importance of performing music—and performing it well. This, we believe, is the basis for the development of sound musicianship and cultivated taste.

Effective performance is required of all students with a major in music. Participation in ensemble performance is required at all levels as is continuing work in one performance medium.

Private studio instruction in piano, voice and orchestral instruments is available to all students—both music majors and general college students—who possess sufficient talent and preparation to pass the department's studio auditions. This private instruction is available without any additional fee.

In order to integrate the theory and practice of music, we have developed a rather extensive artist-in-residence program which has, we think, been particularly effective in presenting the art of music to both the general college student and the music major—at the undergraduate and graduate level. The presence on the faculty of the Guarneri Quartet, the New York Woodwind Quintet, pianist Jean Casadesus, and composer Karl Korte has provided Harpur students with an opportunity to observe—at times very closely—exceptionally gifted artists practicing their art. Direct contact with such artists in a "work" situation keeps the student in contact with the art as a living entity. The quartet and quintet not only perform but rehearse where the students may observe the central fact of music—the recreative projection or "completion" of the incomplete schematia proposed to the imagination by the score—become a reality. Discussion is available, however the greater and essential part of this recreative process lies beyond the possibility of verbalization.

The function of the ensemble participation parallels this—the choirs, the orchestra are to be thought of as complementary to and "completing" the work in theory and history. The Collegium Musicum, by the performance of old music prepared for performance in history and theory classes, is a working laboratory in this sense. Also, by directing attention to the music of the past suitable for domestic and church use and accessible to low-skill instruments and players, it is hoped to enrich the badly needed and absolutely vital area of musical experience in the home and church. This in addition to opening historically oriented avenues to cultivated as well as didactic uses of music in primary and secondary education.

Under a large scale study of the teaching of theory and general musicianship a program based on the observance and comparison of the evolution of European music and the relation of the past and the present movement is being formed. By constant exposure to actual music that otherwise lies outside the usual undergraduate experience, the student makes a start at the conscious and unconscious assimilation of his legacy of melodic vitality—the heritage of European music.

In an attempt to better implement this educational philosophy, the music faculty has proposed a five year program leading to the combined degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music. This proposal takes into account the fact of the special needs of a musician—the time required for the acquisition of motor skills, sense-perception and sense-memory necessary before even the slightest theoretical or historical information can be complete or significant. Under this plan it would be possible for one of the five years to be devoted to an almost exclusive concentration and completeness that only such prolonged concentration can bring. It is expected that this program will be implemented in 1968.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 14/11/2018

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