December, 2017

Keith Ward

December: That month demarcating a pause in the academic year. Holiday concerts, juries to perform or hear, final projects to complete or evaluate, exams to take or grade: these are some of the academic rituals that await us this short month. I personally look forward to some time off and to reading by a fire — that is, after I’ve finished grading!

The end of the calendar year also invites reflection, a moment to take stock before assembling resolutions for the coming year. It has been quite a year for CMS! We have a new executive director in Bill Pelto. Decisions have been made that have streamlined our operations and made us more efficient. We have begun the process of improving products and services, such as moving the Directory of Music Faculties online this January and, next year, expanding the functionality of the Music Vacancy List. As best seen at our national conference last October through multiple sessions, discussion tables, and three keynote speeches, we continue to ask the challenging pedagogical and curricular questions of our day, grappling with the non-linear, complex evolution that balances both the symbiosis and friction between existing practices and progressive ideas. We are in the midst of fundamental change in academe, fueled by expanding content and pedagogies, demographic trends, structural change in the professorate, and a new generation with its own ideas, interests, and ways of doing things. Within that stream of things, CMS had an invigorating year. We remained true to our mission as an organization that “promotes music teaching and learning, musical creativity and expression, research and dialogue, and diversity and interdisciplinary interaction” while “providing leadership in our field and serving as an agent of change.” 

I am grateful to all our members who contributed to our work this calendar year, who participated in webinars, served on committees, wrote for our publications, participated or presented at conferences, and all who kept us thinking, exploring, and questioning. Whether actively or passively, I thank you for keeping our Society vibrant. 

Outside of academe, we mark this season in many ways with diverse rituals and a spirit of receiving and giving. Writing this column for December, I’m reminded of the latter when I think of CMS, an organization that has given me so much through the stages of my career. One way I show my thanks is through contributing to the CMS Fund. I hope it is something you also will consider at the close of this calendar — and tax — year.

Jim Scott, supported by an outstanding Board, has brought invigorating leadership to the CMS Fund. As I reported last month, the mini-campaign it launched at the national conference to raise $4000 to reach the $10,000 threshold for the Student Travel Award Fund was met, thanks to the generosity of CMS members in San Antonio. (Look for a formal announcement of reaching this goal soon.) It means this coming year we will be able to offer support to some deserving students who wish to attend or present at the national conference in Vancouver. I invite you to sustain that philanthropic spirit by considering donating to that fund, if you have not already, or other initiatives by the CMS Fund. Your giving will be received with gratitude by those benefitting from it. 

Best wishes this holiday season!