March, 2011

A CMS Wish List: If Wishes were Eighth Notes, Then Musicians Would Fly!
David B. Williams

At its meeting this spring the CMS Board of Director’s will complete the strategic planning and visioning process begun one year ago under the guidance of President Cindy Taggart. This will serve as a blueprint for new directions for the Society over the next few years. Much more on the visioning and strategic planning for The College Music Society will be shared with the membership in the months ahead.

I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t share with you my personal “wish list” for CMS and you as a member. I welcome dialogue on any of these “wishes” and share my email address should any resonate with you <[email protected]>.

Expanded international scope and outreach for CMS. With the Internet and the virtual global village it creates, many of us wish to move dialogue concerning higher education beyond North America and engage with those in tertiary education internationally. This topic is the primary concern of our International Initiatives committee; perhaps such dialogue should concern all our work. Questions we might ask ourselves are: How can we understand more completely the educational systems in other countries and engage more fully with faculty beyond our borders? Where do we share common musical and academic interests as well as concerns? What alternatives to current curricula and music programs might we discover from international colleagues, solutions we might benefit from as we look to enhance music programs in the U.S.? In our planning and execution of the Society’s many initiatives, it seems natural in this day and age that we set a high priority for reaching out to international constituents in higher education. The Internet and the Web offer many innovative ways for nurturing such relationships with colleagues and programs globally.

Shared mentorships. Just as we are placing an important emphasis on bringing students into our membership as young professionals, we need to retain and use the wisdom and experience offered by our more senior members, especially retirees. The corporate world has recently turned to “reverse mentorships,” where young professionals well versed in technology mentor more senior staff needing technology guidance. The results of those programs have shown that the young professionals benefit, as well, from their interaction with senior staff. I suggest we explore “shared mentorships,” where there is an exchange of experience from our senior members to our younger members, all of whom have skills to offer, technological and otherwise. Does anyone else sense the same need, the same value that could come of such a program? The CMS online career services mentoring model (see http://www. may be worth considering and the concept of “shared mentorships” might be explored by the Academic Careers Committee as well as other initiatives such as the Student Advisory Council.

New ways to access CMS digital resources. There are articles appearing in the past year that suggest “The Web is Dead”! The Web as we know it from its 1994 inception as static webpages is the target of this death knell. While it may seem extreme, what it suggests is that we’ve moved beyond static browsing to interactivity and social networking. The tools are abundant (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) and RSS newsfeeds and iPhone and Android apps enable us to access easily the information we need in a personalized and customized form. This topic is a concern of the CMS Instructional Technology and Information Services Committee chaired by Peter Webster (Northwestern University). But, like our international presence, I suggest it should be a concern in all of our planning efforts. How can CMS provide for members, institutions, and professionals similar access to its rich digital assets? RSS feeds of CMS news and articles, “CMS apps” for the iPhone or Android phone, a customizable event planner for CMS conferences, CMS publications in ePub or other ebook formats suitable for ebook readers like the Kindle, Nook, and iPad – these and other applications offer rich possibilities. Would any of these be useful to you? Do you have other ideas for alternative ways to access CMS digital resources that you would like to suggest or for new resources we should build?

Advocacy outside the academy. A friend, frustrated by the lack of bipartisanship in the Nation’s government, commented that what the U.S. Congress needs is some song and singing before deliberation on affairs of State. She felt that our congressional leaders had lost a sense of spirit and cooperation that comes from music making. I was struck by this comment! I too have been concerned that, unlike the Great Depression, little to no “stimulus funding” is being given to the arts to quicken the spirit of the country and bolster morale in difficult times. Nowhere in the President’s State of the Union message this year were the arts mentioned. Musicians are as shovel-ready as construction workers.

In his CMS President’s message of January 2007, Tayloe Harding urged us to “convene a summit of leaders from the entire range of music professions to develop specific action plans” so that we might “begin to advocate for music and its power to affect lives positively.” Such a summit has not taken place. Does anyone else feel the same sense of need that we use the strengths of our organization to reach out to arts organizations beyond higher education to find a common ground for advocating the greater influence of music to our citizenry? CMS is good at breaking down walls within the membership; can we do the same outside our scope of influence? As a step toward greater advocacy, the CMS Summit 2012 will take place in January in Anaheim, California, in conjunction with the NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants). This event is the meeting ground for all who have a stake or interest in the business of music and it behooves us as leaders of music’s education sector to become a part of this forum and welcome the hand of collaboration extended by the NAMM organization. This occasion offers an exciting opportunity for the Society to expand its relationship with others that comprise the broad field we call “music,” especially as it pertains to music business and industry. Advocacy in motion! Using the strengths or our organization to explore new ground for advocating the greater importance of music to society! I welcome your thoughts and support on these ideas for exploring greater advocacy roles for CMS.

CMS Wants You!
Considering the accomplishments of the past year, 2011 activities taking shape, and my “wish list,” there is ample evidence that CMS is alive and well. The activities and opportunities of CMS become more extensive each year and the number of valuable resources online for members continues to expand.

As a member you not only receive the essential Music Vacancy List (MVL), but you may participate in activities ranging from regional, national, and international meetings; to the new January Summits where colleagues focus on a key topic of interest to the profession; to the summer and pre-conference workshops for improving your teaching and professional life. The Society also provides venues for you to share your creative and scholarly work through conference presentations and performances as well as publishing in our broad portfolio of publications: the CMS Newsletter, College Music Symposium, Monographs and Bibliographies in American Music, and CMS Sourcebooks in American Music.

If you joined CMS primarily for the MVL, I encourage you to look to any of the activities outlined here to deepen your involvement with the Society. If you are more actively engaged in Society activities, look to new possible areas of interest. Don’t be bashful about contacting the Board Members or committee leadership, or myself, to express an interest in serving on a committee or program planning activity. Feel free to respond to some of the questions posed above. CMS wants you to be involved. The only way to appreciate the 3-D view of CMS I offered in my January newsletter column is to participate in the Dialogue and Discourse and contribute to the underlying Diversity of interest that defines the Society.

Best wishes for the coming spring!