The State of the Society



We designed and delivered on a CMS Summit in Seattle in 2014 on subjects of “Music-Science-Society.”  With a concern for the veritable blitz of misinformation and uncertainties circulating under the guise of “brain research in music”, we called together specialists in music cognition, developmental psychology, and ethnomusicology on the nature and need for music in human life. I’m grateful for the good research of Ian Cross of Cambridge University, Laurel Trainor of McMaster University, and Steve Friedson of the University of North Texas, who set us on a course of research-based understandings of what humanly transpires in the processes of performing and participating in music in infancy, childhood, youth, and adult life, in familiar western art music contexts as well as traditional communities of Ghana and Malawi.  A broad spectrum of issues were addressed by 60 CMS Summit participants, too, some in their poster presentations and others in full dialogue with the invited experts.  Many thanks also to Bill Everett, Joyce Griggs, David Royse, Steve Demorest, and Steve Morrison who moderated sessions, and to University of Washington students Jim Morford, Cory Meals, and Jamey Kelley who were on-the-ground in all manner and form of local arrangements.  NAMM, via our remarkable liaison-colleague, Mary Luehrsen, graciously provided us with additional funding for the meeting that allowed for us to develop a summary video-file to be shared with members on the CMS website. (Spearheaded by Gail Berenson, a group was gathered together at the St. Louis CMS meeting on questions in the related field of Musicians’ Health, and we look forward to some important work ahead on that front.)

Latin American Music and Musicians (LAM/M)

The initiative on Latin American Music and Musicians (LAM/M) was introduced as a viable CMS focus in late 2012, and a précis formalized our initiative aims in early 2013.  With the intent of increasing awareness by CMS members of music and musicians in Latin America and in U.S. Latino communities, we are making fast tracks.  Starting with the 2012 San Diego meeting’s feature of Mariachi Chula Vista and Juan Chattah’s brilliant hand in the fashioning of the 2013 International Meeting in Buenos Aires, LAM/M is carrying on through conference sessions, webinars, Symposium entries, and future meeting sites of CMS in Santa Fe (2016) and San Antonio (2017).  I’m grateful for the good news of our Indianapolis CMS meeting, that Dan Sheehy, Director-Curator of Smithsonian Folkways and author of Mariachi Music in America, will be featured as our 2015 Robert Trotter lecturer.  Two CMS webinar series have been designed to highlight Latin American specialists in the professoriate (and their specialized Latin American musical studies), the second of which launched in December 2014 and ran through February 2015 on topics that include Tito Puente, teaching Hispanic Music of the Caribbean, teaching Mexican music in a post-national age, brass band music of the central Andes, orchestral music in Urban Brazil, and the role of NGOs in Latin American music and education.  All together, we are at last giving necessary attention that is long overdue to the musical cultures of  “The Latin Tinge”, title of a seminal work by John Storm Roberts on the impact of Latin American music in the United States.

Growing a Presence of Historically Underrepresented Populations (HUP)

We are more monocultural than we may wish to admit—within the membership of our North American professional music organizations, and at our annual conferences.  The business of music in higher education is in fact skewed towards populations of White European Americans, both in the musical content and method of our conventional curricular programs as well as in the pool of students whom we bring to our campuses. Yet there is a certain diversity within our profession, and so we advanced in early 2013 the CMS initiative on Growing a Presence of Historically Underrepresented Populations (HUP) with the intent of honoring graduate students and young professional colleagues of African American, Hispanic American, and Native American populations.  We established the CMS Growing a Presence (HUP) Travel Award, and recognized our first recipient of the award, Dr. Samuel Rowley, at the St. Louis meeting. We are in search of funding internally and externally in order that we might draw a diversity of colleagues into active engagement within CMS, and into the profession at large of performers, composers, scholars, and educators at the tertiary level.  This effort will require that the Society and The CMS Fund get behind the effort, and that members consider making tax-deductible donations to the Growing a Presence HUP Travel Award.