“Be grateful for the good.” This phrase loops continuously in my mind as I review the two-year term of my CMS presidency. We covered some serious territory in 2013-14, following on our mission to promote quality pedagogical encounters in music by faculty and students in higher education, in schools and communities, and in industry. There’s been an abundance of dialogue on music in performance, as creative expression, and as deep disciplinary scholarship. Thanks to the commitment of thoughtful CMS members, including members of the CMS Board, Committees, Councils, Books & Monographs Board, Symposium Board, and a uniquely charged and devoted Task Force this term, we have seen the continuation of good works as well as the developments of new initiatives. I direct much of our gratitude to Robby Gunstream, CMS Executive Director, for his steady and relentless commitment to the operations of the Society, and to the staff he supervises.
A summary of 2013-14 accomplishments follows, along with my thoughts for furthering efforts of the Society in 2015-16. I’m grateful for the good of the (1) Task Force on the Undergraduate Music Major, (2) the CMS Summit on Music-Science-Society (with offspring into Musicians’ Health), (3) the initiative on Latin American Music and Musicians, and (4) the initiative on Growing a Presence of Historically Underrepresented Populations. We should celebrate the good works of CMS members who have contributed to the growth of interest inside and outside CMS on features in our Symposium online journal, the development of Music Nation Files that tell of music in higher education in 20 international sites, the wide spread of topics within the works of our CMS Book & Monographs series, and the CMS-NAMM partnership that is allowing for an annual “Generation Next” conference on music industry and education. The direction and extent of future CMS work on these fronts will naturally depend upon the time and creative energy that the Society will wish to commit to these causes. For now, I applaud the good work of so many CMS colleagues on these efforts over the time of my presidency.
Task Force on the Undergraduate Music Major
We identified a need within the profession to review the nature of the undergraduate music major curriculum, and we pursued in earnest to address the question of what it means to be an educated musician in the twenty-first century. Last month, we released “Transforming Music Study from its Foundations: A Manifesto for Progressive Change in the Undergraduate Preparation of Music Majors”, a documentary report of the challenges and opportunities facing professional musicians today and the ways in which the curriculum might better reflect relevant needs, qualities, knowledge, and skills. This report was crafted over a period of 18 months of earnest analysis and discussion by a group of eight "thinking musicians” appointed as the CMS Task Force on the Undergraduate Music Major. I’m grateful for the good of the members of this group—Juan Chattah, Lee Higgins, Victoria Lindsay Levine, Timothy Rice, David Rudge, Ed Sarath (and that I could serve with them, too!). Their recommendations collect within the frame of three key pillars—creativity, diversity, and integration—and provide for a new model in the education of musicians who perform, improvise, and compose in a diversity of musical styles and traditions as a result of course experiences that holistically integrate all manner and form of musical (and cultural) knowledge, skills, processes. There is an astounding outpouring of interest in the documentary report within and beyond CMS, too, with literally hundreds of responses by email to the Task Force by colleagues nationally and internationally, and much attention to it at various professional meetings in November-December of this year. Principles of the report will be featured at presentations in the coming year—in the U.S, the U.K., Finland, Ireland, Hong Kong, Mexico, with more to come.