Music in General Studies

glen constanceConstance Cook Glen, Indiana University
CMS Board Member for Music in General Studies

During the 2015 year, Music in General Studies opened up dialogues about MGS courses and students with several issues. Some topics up for discussion were:

  • types of students in MGS courses,
  • topics of appreciation courses,
  • differences between large and small school populations and their respective opportunities,
  • collaboration across disciplines, and
  • relevance of music study for current university-­‐level general students.

At the 2015 CMS National Conference, several sessions included general student concerns, ranging from diversity of topics currently taught to social awareness through music, public school education to sustainability of music itself. This last point is illuminated with the vision that it is the general student’s interest in music that is likely to play an important part in sustaining the field of music study in the future. This interest impacts the changing role of music curricula from kindergarten through college. In some places, MGS programs at the university level have been more progressively multi-faceted than traditional music major programs, with courses ranging from standard music appreciation of the classical canon to music theory, film, cultural history, world music, multiple genres of popular music, jazz, and the creation of music through technology (e.g., remixing and EDM, as well as video game composition). 

The ubiquity of music in the general student marketplace means that there are opportunities for teachers on many fronts. In order to remain relevant, Music in General Studies teachers have been encouraged to look as broadly as possible on our discipline and constantly ask themselves important questions, such as: Why should general students (or anyone) study music? What is essential about music that the general student would like to (or needs to) learn? 

Future plans for Music in General Studies include constructing a model for a general student music curriculum that can be used by interested instructors in music programs across the country. In addition, future discussions will consider how the role of arts education can be re-introduced into STEM-oriented curricula. Both practical and idealistic approaches for providing training that creates culturally educated leaders for the arts will be explored as part of this discussion.