Music Theory

boge_claireClaire Boge, Miami University
CMS Board Member for Music Theory

During 2013, the primary focus of Music Theory in the CMS was twofold: 1) to research and prepare for our panel on “Assignments and Assessments” and 2) to prepare for the transition to the new Board Member for Theory.

The panel in Cambridge was organized to directly address ideas and concerns of the membership expressed at the Open Forum for music theory in Richmond (2011), to address big-picture issues in music theory pedagogy and the changing needs of college teaching in the new millennium.

Our San Diego session in 2012 addressed “Music Theory in the New Millenium”, focusing on goals/objectives, textbooks, and changing trends in assessment. During the discussion period, attendees at that session expressed the desire to hone in on the assessment issue; hence our 2013 panel in Cambridge “Assignments and Assessment”. Each panelist focused on different areas, including structuring assignments to meet learning objectives, looking at trends in higher education assessment, and developing rubrics that better communicate to both students and to administrators the goals for a music theory curriculum.

We were quite happy with the outcome: over 50 people attended the session held on Saturday afternoon (which needed to be done to accommodate those persons who were presenting at both CMS and SMT, conferences held in different cities on the same weekend). All the handouts disappeared, and many people remained to chat. We were especially grateful to the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy folks, who suspended their vendor seminar presentation and came to the session. I also want to thank everyone who has attended theory sessions of all kinds; your concerns, ideas, and wishes, have been continually considered as we put together our Conference Panel past and future topics 

As the outgoing Board Member for Music Theory, I am especially proud of having been able to mount a series of linked panels that directly grew out of interaction with and requests directly from attendees at CMS conferences. While continuing to focus on CMS’s strengths and reputation as the pedagogical arm of our theory profession, we strived to look at larger issues that emerge from the changing landscape of colleges and universities. This trend is being carried forward enthusiastically by our incoming Board Member Juan Chattah – who was so excited that he began his responsibilities early, submitting a proposal addressing theory pedagogy and the flipped classroom for the St. Louis meeting. 

Also during the past year, President Campbell began many initiatives, one of which included outreach to established learned societies. I began a project to personally interact with a representative of every special interest group in the SMT – structures which bubble up in multidisciplinary areas of focus as members decide to meet with like-minded scholars during the formal conference. It seems to me that this is a particularly lively way to expand in ways that do not necessarily need to be formalized, but which also continue to UN-silo disciplines as we respond to the fiscal and political exigencies of higher education and professional training. As my formal term comes to a close, I look forward to continuing this liaison activity more, and contributing to the Newsletter or online Symposium as an ongoing report of how Music Theory as a profession is both reacting and reforming ideas of disciplinarity in the future.

In preparation for the transition of incoming Board Member for Music Theory, Juan Chattah has served on the Theory Advisory Committee this past year and has already begun to submit conference session proposals. Both Matthew Shaftel (past Board Member for Theory) and I (current Board Member for Theory) have offered to continue to serve on Juan’s Advisory Board, thus assuring a level of continuity while encouraging him to pursue his visions for the next three years.

I would like to thank all of our current and past Advisory Committee members and advisers who have served in many capacities in the past three years: Mary Arlin, Juan Chattah, Tomoko Deguchi, Melissa Hoag, Mark Lochstamphor, and Matthew Shaftel. It has indeed been an honor to serve, to interact with colleagues that I would otherwise not have known so well, and to have shared the ideas, inclusion, and inspiration that The College Music Society is known for (not to mention the food and conviviality). I wish everyone the best. See you in St. Louis,…