Anne Dhu McLucas
As The College Music Society Board Member for Musicology and a long-time member of the American Musicological Society, I was pleased to chair the joint CMS/AMS session on Musicology and Undergraduate Teaching at the 1987 Annual Meeting, a session that bore fruit in the essays printed here.
From what I have gathered as a Board member, The College Music Society is an organization devoted to examining how the various musical disciplines contribute to the educational environment of departments and schools of music. In that context, musicologists are often perceived by others in the music profession as being off in an ivory tower, with little that is practical to offer to those environments. I know that this is not necessarily the case, and I am sure that these essays will help dispel the negative image.
The object of the session was to explore the problem of how musicology as a discipline has an impact on the undergraduate curriculum. Musicology is taught at the graduate level; yet most of us teach undergraduates as well. The question is: does our research influence our teaching?
I invited submissions from four who are well-respected musicologists and who are known as good undergraduate teachers. What I asked from each participant was a short statement about an area of musicological research that has made its way into some aspect of undergraduate teaching and how it works. They gracefully arranged to cover the gamut from non-major introductory courses to those aimed at performers, theorists, and composers, as well as music history majors.
James Hepokoski received his Ph.D. at Harvard University, and has published widely on both Verdi and Debussy, including books for Cambridge University Press on Verdi's Falstaff and Otello. From 1978 to 1988 he was Professor of Musicology at Oberlin College Conservatory, where he taught courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century music, both in the form of semester-long surveys for sophomores and juniors and more advanced courses on individual composers or genres (he has now moved to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities). His essay addresses especially those courses aimed at students who are pursuing some sort of career in music—conservatory students and serious music majors.
Kenneth Levy, Professor of Music at Princeton University, is deservedly renowned both as a medievalist and as a teacher of one of the famous undergraduate courses for non-majors. Out of this teaching has come his textbook Music: A. Listener's Introduction. His essay takes a somewhat different tack on the usefulness of musicology in dealing with a much broader population of students.
Margaret Murata, Professor of Music at the University of California, Irvine, is a specialist in Roman Baroque opera and cantata, with a book published by UMI Research Press, Operas for the Papal Court, 1631-1669. She teaches in a department that is largely performance-oriented, offering the Bachelor of Arts degree, the Bachelor of Music, and the Master of Fine Arts in performance. She speaks of her special concerns for non-major interdisciplinary courses and new ways of organizing them, as well as relationships between musicologists and studio teachers.
Katherine T. Rohrer is in a sense one of the products of the teaching of another member of the panel. She received her Ph.D. at Princeton and had her first teaching experience in 1976 as a preceptor in Kenneth Levy's introductory course. Between 1986 and 1988 she was director of the music appreciation course at Columbia University, heading a staff of forty faculty members and graduate students. She is now Director of Studies at Wilson College of Princeton University. Her musicological research deals with seventeenth-century England; she is writing a book for Princeton University Press about the linguistic basis of Henry Purcell's text-setting techniques.
Although the differing personalities and teaching contexts of the four participants yield areas of disagreement, as a group their brief essays offer provocative and valuable insights on teaching and its relationship to musicology. In place of the enthusiastic discussion which followed the original panel we hope that readers of this Report will engage in their own discussions on the issues raised.