Anne Dhu McLucas
The College Music Society has been in the forefront of exploring many of the issues that confront higher education. In its series of reports, of which this is the eighth, it has taken on the status of women (Reports 1 and 2), racial and ethnic issues (Report 3), music in general studies (Report 4), women's studies (Report 5), musicology and undergraduate teaching (Report 6), and music in the undergraduate curriculum (Report 7).
This latest report is a rich offering of viewpoints on what has become a virtual watchword of education in the United States from the late eighties to the present: cultural diversity. Nohema Fernández, who has served as the forward-looking, activist Chair of The College Music Society's Committee on Cultural Diversity, suggests in her introduction to the volume, several reasons for the recent interest in this area. Let me summarize them by saying simply that we have finally realized that we are all members of a global society that is multicultural.
That said, however, there are many layers of complexity to the concept of cultural diversity, and the first section of the volume, a transcript of a panel entitled "Minorities in Music," plunges us into such controversies as those surrounding the definitions of the terms "minority" and "affirmative action." The interaction between panelists and audience members mirrors to some degree the confusion and misunderstanding that persists about these concepts in society at large, and especially in higher education, where, even with the best of wills, the assumptions held by different individuals still cause clashes. The articles which follow, focussing on single facets of the problem, are less confusing and more hopeful—but perhaps therefore not as reflective of present reality.
Leonard Brown gives the call to action on the part of music educators that will persist throughout the volume by outlining three positive, if broad, steps that can be taken in educating young musicians. Eileen Cline takes this survey one step further by singling out the training of future orchestra members and audiences, pointing out the broad educational base that will be needed both to supply future minority orchestral players and to build their audiences. Far from construing education as based solely on values of Western classical music, she points out that narrowly trained classical musicians are as culturally deprived as those who learn nothing about classical music, thus sounding another note common throughout the volume: the need for all of us to be more broadly educated in more than one music. In his article, Ronald Crutcher picks up the theme of valuing cultural diversity by encouraging minority participation at all levels and with long-term commitments.
Kay Hoke's essay adds an issue that cuts across racial lines—that of gender—and suggests that the perennial problems of equal pay and hiring practices must be joined by "matching the realities of life and work to individuals." She ends with a series of practical suggestions for how to sustain and support women in our profession, many of which are transferrable to faculty members of ethnic minorities.
Barbara Lundquist's essay moves us from music to the larger arena of intercultural communication, providing background and bibliography on the fundamental difficulties of understanding one another, but ending with the optimistic outlook characteristic of the entire book. Finally, Portia Maultsby gives her own set of very practical suggestions on how to achieve a multicultural curriculum.
The overall tone of the volume is both pragmatic and hopeful: here are the barriers to intercultural communication and here are suggestions for removing them. This tone is entirely in keeping with the philosophy of The College Music Society, which holds that identifying problems, finding people both within and outside its membership who can address them, and disseminating that information will be of use to the larger society. This is not to suggest that the problems are simple and the solutions easy, but it is to say that we should be armed with information in order to take the first steps. This volume provides background for those ready to begin creating a new era of intercultural communication.