In Conversation with President Mark Rabideau

Eileen Hayes

PDF version available here.

Writing Our Future

Mark Rabideau

Science Fiction fans will get this. Over the years, artists, musicians, filmmakers, poets, and perhaps especially authors, have eerily imagined fantastic worlds and futures forged within the deep recesses of their minds and shared them with audiences in such compelling ways that they’ve helped us experience the future now.

Jules Verne foretold distinct aspects of the Apollo 11 landing in his 1865 book, From the Earth to the Moon. George Orwell’s 1984 predicted the end of privacy, as “Big Brother” watched our every move. Bionic limbs (Martin Caidin’s Cyborg, 1972), satellite television (John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar, 1968), and “newspads” and voice-activated virtual assistants (Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968) stretched our imaginations as writers painted a vivid picture of a universe that dared to go where no man has gone before; a place that would in the years to come, become familiar, ubiquitous.

For some, seeing is believing. For others, believing allows us to see into the future as a first step in inventing the world we hope to live in.

This month, I want to provide a glimpse into some of the ways in which CMS members are scripting our best future, wish the College Music Symposium a Happy 60th Birthday, and invite members to become involved with CMS publications.


CMS has enjoyed a long tradition of reflection, reframing, and reimagining music in higher education. The College Music Symposium: Journal of The College Music Society, established in 1961, is a provocative publication not duplicated elsewhere. It cuts across lines of specialization and serves an array of professionals, including the performer, composer, scholar, educator, and administrator. Issued twice a year, the double-blind peer-reviewed journal publishes research, review articles, forums, and individual reviews, including those of books, audio, technologies, and online platforms. The journal also distinctively issues peer-reviewed Performances, Lectures, Lecture-Recitals, and Lessons (PLL) that have been captured on video. 

This year, 2021, marks the 60th anniversary of Symposium, making it among the longest-standing academic music journals of the past century. Its General Editor, Lisa Urkevich, notes, “Reviewing these decades of issues is both fascinating and humbling. The greatest leaders in our fields have used Symposium’s pages to flesh out the most important strategies for paths forward in music or higher education. But also, the journal has certified and vetted a plethora of advanced scholarship encompassing the many specialties of our readership. What is so remarkable is not just the scope or significance of the topics, but the quality of the work itself. As we move into the next decades, especially following this present period of disruption (regarding COVID-19), our goal is to encourage and promote forward-thinking discussion and research, to engage and welcome our international colleagues and serve as a unifying platform for diverse cultures and perspectives, and to make our work easily accessible, beyond mere text presentation, through a variety of modern media.”

I’d like to express my gratitude for Dr. Urkevich’s leadership, invite you to view the most recent publication (Volume 61, No. 1), and wish Symposium a Happy 60th Birthday.


Storied for its long history of connecting graduate students and early career academics with institutions seeking new hires, CMS’ benefits to new members extends far beyond access to music vacancy listings. CMS is pleased to announce CMS Emerging Scholars Program: a competitive opportunity for early-career scholar engagement with established academic authors, leading to a publication within The College Music Society/Routledge books and monographs.

To learn more about the benefits of becoming a CMS Emerging Scholar, developing and submitting a proposal, and securing mentoring support, please complete this form.


CMS is seeking senior editors for two of its publications:

Cultural Expressions in Music is a series of referred monographs which seeks to promote and share the diversity of perspectives, cultures, experiences, philosophies, and contributions of The College Music Society’s membership.

CMS Monographs and Sourcebooks in American Music series was conceived to underscore the remarkable diversity in our nation’s musical expression and to call attention to both landmark and representative achievements in its evolution.

Competitive candidates will promote the mission of each series by providing outstanding publications that address issues and interests relevant to professional musicians, especially those working in the field of music and higher education. Series editors should be published book authors; possess language and editing capabilities, organizational skills, and a proven ability to keep projects on schedule; and demonstrate a commitment to mentoring scholars, especially those early in their careers, through the publication process. The series editors are voluntary service positions within The College Music Society.

Nominations, including self-nominations, are welcome by the deadline of June 28, 2021. To learn more, please email [email protected].


The Emerging Fields in Music series – a partnership between CMS and Routledge Publishing – has focused its lens on creating a collection of books on Leading Change in a time of uncertainty and promise. This collection will examine the systems and ecosystems within music in higher education and offer a comprehensive scaffolding of why, what, how, and for whom meaningful change might come about. What is imagined to become a collection of nearly thirty books, aims to guide emerging musicians as they invent the future they will soon inhabit, offer faculty insights for rethinking the courses they teach and how they teach them, and recalibrate administrators’ priorities, policies, and procedures as they paint the new landscape for 21st century music schools.

Our exploration of ideas is built upon three pillars for change:

Pillar 1: Championing equity, celebrating diversity, and fostering inclusivity, while re-examining our policies, practices, and priorities so that we might create equitable, just, and inclusive systems and ecosystems.

Pillar 2: Harnessing the power of living, learning, and making music in a hybrid world by acknowledging the significance of the digital/technological marketplace and increasing the presence of curriculum and pedagogy that yields digital competencies that graduates can monetize.

Pillar 3: Repositioning creativity, entrepreneurship, and collaboration in 21st century arts training and arts making, by increasing their presence in such places as curricular and co-curricular degree program outcomes.

Leading Change is a CMS-led, trans-organizational research project that brings together more than ninety (90) scholars, 30 world-renowned musicians, and 5 recording engineers and filmmakers. The broader output will result in a collection of nearly 30 books published within Emerging Fields in Music (CMS/Routledge), 5 case studies on change management within music units in higher education published by the Eastman Case Studies, and 3 artistic projects that exemplify the three pillars upon which we argue for change, the first of which – Awadagin Pratt: Black in America – will be performed during our National Conference in Rochester this October.

Michael Stepniak, et al. will open the collection by providing readers with perspectives on (and a map of) change management leadership strategies that can help music department and music school leaders and faculty further address the unique challenges currently facing music in higher education.

Arguing that clever and determined administrators and scholars, as well as working groups formed within organizations such as The College Music Society, have made repeated attempts to advocate for and bring about meaningful change, A More Promising Musical Future: Leading Transformational Change in Music Higher Education contends that measurable change has remained incremental, even among programs heralded as revolutionary. Indeed, across the country, music performance degrees (curricula and pedagogies, styles, systems, and ecosystems) remain relatively unaltered from the past 50+ years, even while the career marketplace facing our graduates has drastically changed (moving away from classical music), and our society has truly become culturally diverse (with dominant interest in non-classical music styles).

In chapters written by a diverse group of leaders with experience overseeing meaningful change (and with first-hand knowledge of challenges and common pitfalls), authors strengthen the field’s shared understanding of the changes needed in critical domains to better align music training in higher education with the actual marketplace facing graduates and our culturally diverse society.

“Truly Embracing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion”
Building on many years of on-the-ground experience within higher education, Jasmine Parker outlines how institutions might best achieve a widespread embrace of EDI-lens for courses, programs, institutional systems, and ecosystems.

“Connecting to the Larger Marketplace”
Building on extensive knowledge of trends (and previously authored volumes), David Cutler outlines the importance (and methods) of increasing the presence of curriculum and pedagogy that incorporates and strengthens “non-traditional” digital/technological/online competencies that graduates can monetize.

“Embracing 21ST Century Values: Creativity, Collaboration, and Entrepreneurship”
Brian Pertl outlines the reasons why there are increased needs for these values and strategies to imbue them into both curricular and co-curricular degree program outcomes.

“Readying Our Music Performers – An Employer’s View”
Noted performing arts leader Kendra Ingram, who has overseen major performance venues both within and outside of academic institutions, further explains the skills and competencies that remain (or are increasingly) most useful when it comes to supporting the success of music program graduates (soloists and ensembles) when they seek to book performance engagements in the 2020s.

Pillar 1.
The first-of-three pillars upon which we reimagine building music schools of the future addresses the question: Whose music matters?

Chris Jenkins frames the issues facing BIPOC students in conservatories and schools of music by going beyond a discussion of curriculum and recruitment to address the cultural and social issues that alienate minority students. Assimilation v. Integration in Music Education: Leading Change toward Greater Equity filters the author’s deep experience working with BIPOC students in a major American conservatory through the lens of recent critical theory in conservatory education, and by presenting the viewpoint of these students in their own words. Jenkins exposes systems of institutional racism and offers a path forward for music units to bring about systemic change, setting the stage for music historians and music educators, theorists and composers, studio professors, chamber ensemble coaches, and large ensemble conductors to offer strategies for embracing a world of opportunities to reimagine what music and what musicians count within the academy.

Ed Sarath authors an open letter to the profession that imagines a contemporary, creativity-rich, and socially responsible artistic vision for music and music in higher education. Music Studies and its Moment of Truth: Leading Change through America’s Black Music Roots offers a future, built upon Black American music, for re-enlivening engagement with European classical music and launching an arts-driven revolution in creativity and consciousness, a vision that would compel education more broadly and to society at large toward being decidedly anti-racist.

Race and Representation in the Music History Classroom: Leading Change through Pedagogy models effective practices for researchers and instructors either striving to reform music history curricula at large or wanting to approach individual topics within their classes in a more well-rounded, diverse, and ethical way. In her writing, Ayana Okeeva Smith addresses racial equity issues in the discipline of musicology by outlining the racial imbalances encoded within the canonic repertory, pedagogy, and historiography of the field, while impeding the “pandemic of racism” in its academic form by confronting the encoded whiteness (and “white genius” narrative) currently entrenched in Western art music. The book will develop comprehensive teaching tools that instructors can use at all stages of course design, from syllabus writing to lecture planning, discussion techniques, and assignments for each of the subject matter case studies. Leading Change: Race and Representation in the Music History Classroom differs from other similar resources by combining original research methodologies for meta-design strategies with concrete case studies offering specific course content. Together, the frameworks and case studies create ultimate flexibility for syllabus design, classroom discussion, and activity planning.

Pillar 2.
The second pillar, Lessons for a Hybrid World, explores the limitless possibilities of learning, teaching, and making music within the landscape of embodied and virtual engagement. To begin, Timothy Cheek explores the virtual exchange—one of the most important educational innovations of the twentieth-first century to date. Reimagining Lyric Diction Courses: Leading Change in the Classroom and Beyond demonstrates how a diction class can be taken to a whole new level, leading to an even greater development of students’ diction skills, greater diversity, and greater collaboration. By partnering with music schools in Europe, voice students on one continent can connect online with their fellow voice students on the European continent for one-on-one help with the French, German, or Italian pronunciation of their songs or arias, along with insights into style and understanding of the text. When students first meet their peers as two combined classes, suddenly all the specialized skill work in the course is put into perspective— the foreign sounds and texts are immediately seen as part of the living language of the culture seen in the people in front of them; mastery of diction skills, with its ultimate goal, “communicating the meaning of a text while interpreting and expressing its emotional message...,” is seen in context. Compartmentalization has been completely broken down. Students see the bigger picture. Curiosity is piqued. As part of the exchange, the United States students help their foreign peers with African American art songs. This propels the class to an even higher level, with more, deeper layers. Growth is exponential. 

Pillar 3.
The third-of-three pillars repositions creativity – improvisation, composition, entrepreneurial thinking and action, and a fundamental quest for making life a work of art—at the center of how we prepare artists-to-the-world.

Brian Chin re-imagines the studio experience as one where the complete musician is more than a flawless technician, but a fearless collaborator and joy-filled artistic practitioner, who is an engaged, thriving, creative, capable, productive, caring, citizen-artist to the world.

Practicing Creativity: Leading Change from within the Music Studio proposes alternative and supplemental methodologies for the collegiate private lesson music studio and makes a case for reevaluating and redefining the traditional learning objectives we have inherited from our own teachers. With an intention to re-imagine current systemic processes, techniques, and beliefs we convey to our students around concepts of practice, self-empowerment, and creativity, Chin hopes to inspire readers to evolve their music studios by providing alternatives and augmentations to our traditional pedagogical systems.

Drawing upon insights gained throughout his 16-year career at Microsoft and more than a decade as dean of Lawrence Conservatory, Brian Pertl unpacks strategies for how to bring about meaningful change within our systems and ecosystems. Radically Responsive Music Schools: Leading Change through Culture-Building deconstructs the influences and motivations for change and offers a path for how we might nurture a culture of creativity, possibility, collaboration, improvisation, empowerment, and play critical for creating the innovative, agile, forward-thinking music schools we so desperately need today. Pertl sets the stage for an examination of the systems and ecosystems that drive our music schools and offer ways for how we bring about meaningful change.

Although we envisioned this unprecedented resource not fully coming to fruition until 2024, we’ve chosen to tell the ending of the story, here at the beginning, by answering the most important question of all: How do we prepare students for a lifetime of artistic moments, one after the next?

Tayloe Harding imagines a music profession that equips graduates for inspired and meaningful lives. And one in which modern American university music schools fulfill their vital roles of establishing a more unified, fulfilled, and hopeful nation.

Harding argues that currently our missions call us primarily to prepare musicians and music lovers.  We do it with instruction in the principles of music making, music study, and music education. We also engage and enrich our campuses and communities by providing music-making and listening experiences.

Musicians and the World: Leading Change in the 21st Century Music School explores how we might better serve our profession and public by more fully integrating pedagogy and purpose. It poses questions, offers possible answers—both theoretical, and as informed by programs currently in practice at various institutions:

How might providing students with meaningful engagement opportunities within their communities result in a more comprehensive education for careers in music and readiness for becoming artists-citizens?

As faculty, how might we model for our students the ways in which we can foster a love of music-making and enrich the lives of audiences?

Might such an approach catalyze a paradigm shift for higher education music?

And if more of us were to focus our music unit’s work on repositioning musicians at the center of our communities, how much more happy, healthy, and connected might impacted citizens feel? 

Harding suggests that one way of proceeding is through students’ acquisition of and expertise in exploration, experimentation, and creativity. 

For yet another component of the series, Emerging Fields in Music and The College Music Society have partnered with The Eastman Case Studies: a publication dedicated to “Examin[ing] issues and challenges that face today’s musical leaders and place students in the role of consultant, charged with assessing business problems and making key decisions in resolving them.” This partnership will result in five case studies that present real world scenarios of change leadership efforts within music schools that represent the breadth of the profession, bring readers to an inflection point and offer thought-scaffolding for informed decision-making.


Finally, we are pleased to announce that the United States Library of Congress has selected our website for inclusion in the historic collection of internet materials related to the Professional Organizations for Performing Arts Web Archive. The Library's traditional functions—“acquiring, cataloging, preserving, and serving collection materials of historical importance to foster education and scholarship”—will now include CMS digital records, including our growing CMS Library of resources, reports, webinars, and more.


Walt Whitman, expressing a fundamental right and responsibility to author the future we hope to inherit wrote, “That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” As a community of change agents, we are positioned, indeed it is incumbent upon us, to write music in higher education’s next chapter. This is an invitation to write your verse.

Thanks for joining the conversation,

Mark Rabideau
President, The College Music Society
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Arts & Media, University of Colorado Denver