June, 2020

Eileen M. Hayes

Society News and Planning Forward

CMS continues to network with other professional music societies to address changes precipitated by the disruption. In May, Executive Director William Pelto and I participated in a conference call of representatives from over twenty professional music societies to discuss the commission of a scientific study to examine the effects of aerosol transmission of COVID-19 in regard to various music activities, including aerosol projections by brass and wind instruments and ensembles, both vocal and instrumental. The effort is being led by Dr. Mark Spede, president of CBDNA, and Dr. James Weaver, president of the National Federal of State High School Associations. Many of you are probably familiar with studies that have emerged from Germany; this study will be carried out by the nationally recognized environmental engineer Dr. Shelly Miller, University of Colorado - Boulder. NAMM (National Association for Music Merchants) is a major underwriter of the study and all concerned are grateful for their lead contribution of over $100,000. Given that CMS has recently furloughed staff of our national office, I suggested that the Society support the coalition’s effort through a modest contribution of $1,000. 

Last month, CMS, Mary Luehrsen, Executive Director of the NAMM Foundation, and Joe Lamond, President and CEO of NAMM, welcomed CMS/NAMM Fellows Alumni for an informal reunion over Zoom. Bill Pelto hosted the event and I attended as a witness to an inspired conversation that cast light on select accomplishments of the alums over the course of this year. My thanks to Kim Wangler, CMS Board member for Music Industry Studies, and Tayloe Harding, for their facilitation of the program, which is held each summer in Nashville. Although the pandemic forced cancellation of this year’s program, we look forward to identifying a group of Fellows for 2021. 

Thanks to the CMS members who responded last month to our second call for financial assistance. At your convenience, you might visit the list of donors which we have been referring to as the CMS Wall of Gratitude. In other financial news, CMS is the recent recipient of a low interest loan for $150,000 which will help to defray expenses and provide salaries at reduced levels for our national staff, for several more months. 

The webinars that CMS and other professional music societies have produced this term in response to the disruption have been inspiring. CMS’ most recent webinar, which focused on Leadership during the Pandemic, aired on May 29 with 200 attendees (although over 300 registered). Attendees mostly hailed from the U.S., but also Canada, Mexico, Australia, and Singapore. Panelists included Mary Ellen Poole, dean of the UT-Austin School of Music; Don Parker, Chair of the Department of Music at Georgia College; Miguel Basim Chuaqui, Director of the School of Music at the University of Utah; and Patti Crossman, Chair, Department of Performing Arts and Humanities, Community College of Baltimore County. Dr. Tayloe Harding, interim provost at the University of South Carolina, served as Moderator. The chat and Q&A resulted in important threads and suggestions for follow-up; please continue to post teaching resources on CMS’s COVID-19 Resources pages. 

Planning for our upcoming virtual annual conference in October continues. The “Miami” conference will feature a presidential plenary that examines the ways that music programs have implemented changes since the issuance of the CMS Taskforce Report on the Undergraduate Music Major over six years ago. So as to inform the discussion, we would appreciate hearing from membership not only about curricular changes but also about the wide range of topics raised by the Report, through the completion of this brief survey.

Lastly, as we prepare for the fall, I am struck by the confluence of pandemic disaster and racial discrepancies that have become even more evident during this period of disruption. As numerous commentators have observed, the pandemic has affected communities of color and lower income populations in ways that accentuate pre-existing societal divisions. At the time of this writing, I recall the recent death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man unlawfully detained by law enforcement in Minneapolis, whose death has received attention worldwide. My point is that these events, which are tragic and avoidable, occur all too often and do not instill within our faculty, students, staff, and other colleagues a sense of confidence that ours is a welcoming society. So long as we work at or hold dear departments and institutions that value diversity, inclusion, equity and justice, we must be attuned to the events of our time. Let us continue to work to ensure that music as well as, truly, all lives matter.