June, 1988

David Willoughby

A Progress Report on College Music and the Community

On behalf of the CMS Board, I am asking the Regional Chapters and membership of The College Music Society to consider developing formal and informal discussions on College Music and the Community, a major new program of CMS. Hopefully, such discussions can begin now and continue at the annual meetings of the Regional Chapters in the spring of 1989.

In October 1986, the CMS Board approved College Music and the Community (CMC) as a new program for inclusion in its Critical Issues Agenda. CMC was considered a logical extension—a second phase—of the Music in General Studies program (MGS). Whereas MGS drew attention to ways of improving the outreach of music units to the campus community, CMC would encourage music units to reach out in new and innovative ways beyond the confines of the campus. CMC would explore the relationships between college music schools and departments with the cultural and artistic life of the communities and regions that they serve.

CMS has begun planning for the initial activity of this new program: a national, invitational Conference on College Music and the Community. Such a Conference will draw attention to the topic, define the philo-sophical issues and pragmatic problems, formulate possible solutuions to the problems, identify and publicize model courses, programs, and strategies, and recommend specific follow-up activities.

This Conference was originally planned for 1988, but three issues prompted the Board to defer the Conference until they were resolved satisfactorily:

  1. Funding. The quality of the Conference must be ensured and is dependent on obtaining external funds at a satisfactory level. Such funding could not be assured in time to plan a Conference in 1988.
  2. Survey. CMS is planning to administer a national survey of college/community interactions. The results would reveal information about programs and people and would be indispensable in planning the Conference. It was felt that the fall of the year is the most advantageous time to administer such a survey, thus too late to be beneficial in planning a 1988 Conference.
  3. Topic. The Board felt that the topic—College Music and the Community—is too broad, complex, amorphous, and lacking in the abilitiy to develop a manageable focus. In some respects the Conference would have the capacity to provide this focus, but we felt more comfortable with seeking a broad-based input first. It is this issue on which we are seeking the assistance of the Regional Chapters and the membership throughout the coming year.

I am asking the Regional Chapters and the membership to assist us in determining the importance of this topic; that is, whether or not it is of critical importance to the profession to seek improvement in college/community interactions and if it indeed is an appropriate and manageable topic for CMS to undertake. I ask further that you assist us in sorting out those aspects of the topic on which we should focus our energies and our resources.

Let me pose some questions:

  1. What is the nature of your community—its cultural values, its musical life, its artistic leadership? Is it important to improve and perhaps broaden lines of communication between college and community and to develop a better understanding of community values, wisdom, and opportunities? Is it important to get to know each other better? to know and understand common as well as differing goals and aspirations?
  2. What is the nature of your current college/community interaction? Whose responsibility is it—the music executive? individual faculty members? the "Coordinator of Outreach"? Are we talking about more than student teaching, preparatory departments, off-campus performances by faculty, and music therapy activities? What possibilities exist for new and innovative opportunities in these or other areas?
  3. Is there a relationship between College Music and the Community and the changing demographics nationally and in your region, particularly in the growth of minority populations and of non-traditional college-age persons? Does changing demographics create a need to reassess assumptions on which curricula are based: what is taught? who should teach? how subjects are taught? and the value of what is taught?
  4. What musical resources and programs exist in your community that can be tapped 1) to enrich your on-campus curriculum, or 2) that your music unit can serve (altruistically or to increase credit hour production!)? Is there a relationship between improved or expanded college/community interaction and the growth in numbers or in vitality of the music unit?
  5. What organizations in your community have music programs or have the potential for an interesting, new alliance with your music unit? -
    1. Community art/music schools
    2. Hospitals/mental health clinics/prisons
    3. Elderhostels/senior citizen centers
    4. Parks and recreation programs
    5. Arts organizations (arts councils, etc.)
    6. Community and junior colleges
    7. Business and industry
    8. Civic groups and local government
    9. Arts/music volunteer organizations
    10. Continuing education
    11. Mass media
    12. Studio teachers
    13. Special education
    14. Other

We all know that many wonderful college/community alliances are already in place. The CMC program can provide a format for sharing what exists and for stimulating new possibilities. Please let me and your Regional Chapter president hear from you.