Music Specialties

Music Composition

The impulse to create music appears to be universal in all peoples of the world. Those who compose music today employ a wide variety of practices and techniques for doing so. These practices and techniques, in addition to a concentrated examination and analysis of masterpieces from the past, form the basis of the study of music composition in higher education. Music composers are active in creating music for many media, including the concert hall, opera house, film, television, radio, houses of worship, and the internet. Additionally, the study of music composition may incorporate the exploration and review of improvisation, popular music, folk music, ethnic music, acoustics, psychoacoustics, electroacoustic music, sound synthesis, computer-assisted creativity, and many other styles and disciplines. Composers working in higher education teach composition and instrumentation for a diversity of media and purposes, and create music as individual artists working in a wide variety of personal idioms.

Music Performance

Music is performed seemly all over the world by every human culture in a multitude of venues. From the most informal outdoor settings to the most rigidly formal concert halls, all means of music presentation have their protocols, expectations, satisfactions, and support systems.

Within U.S. and Canadian higher education one will find programs that present the musics of the diverse cultures from most areas of the world. These programs strive to teach and present their musics in authentic and faithful ways. This is often referred to as "performance practice" and practitioners of all musics attempt to be faithful to their unique style and requirements.

Because of the historic European heritage of the U.S. and Canada, study of performance of musics of European and American concert hall traditions comprises the largest share of the music curriculum. Performance study on particular instruments is generally organized into "families of instruments" including Strings, Brass, Woodwinds, Percussion, Keyboards, and a special field called Early Instruments. The human voice is a performance instrument, too. Accordions, carillons, guitars, bagpipes, and other special instruments are also studied but are somewhat outside traditional instrument families.

Groups of musicians gather to form what are called "ensembles" and to aid in their performance they are often led by a director, often referred to as a "conductor."

Scholarship and Research

To increase what is known about music, and to support both performers and listeners, three main branches of music study have developed: ethnomusicology, music theory, and music history (sometimes called musicology or historical musicology). Ethnomusicologists study both performance and history of musics all over the world. Music Theorists discern just how these musics work. Music historians delve deeply into the history of music and document carefully both the creators and performers of the past. All three areas - ethnomusicology, music theory, and music history - overlap in their efforts, techniques, and concerns. The study of the musics of the past is a complex and fascinating field and, when coupled with music performance, it illuminates what is heard in rich and deep ways.

Musicians working in these three areas have many interesting and thought-provoking concerns. Conferences are held to present research and expand the knowledge of performance practice, and journals are published to document research advances. Both work together to expand the aesthetic experience of the layman and support the cultural life of our communities.

Music in General Studies

In higher education, music faculty members provide instruction for students not majoring in music. Engagement with and outreach to students not majoring in music is often called "Music Appreciation" or "Music in General Studies." Teaching general college students is a fine art and requires its own methods and pedagogies. Some of the finest music faculty members in higher education provide this important instruction, inspiring generations of students to engage with the art of music over the course of their lifetimes.

Music Education

Throughout the world, music teaching and learning occurs in many ways and in many communities. Music educators' theoretical and practical interests range from capturing the vocalizations of infants to supporting the creative engagement of senior citizens. A rich variety of musical practices are explored, from garage bands to concert orchestras, and hardanger fiddle to hip hop. Tying this diverse field together is the deep commitment of each higher education faculty member towards promoting access to music learning, and supporting the on-going professional development of music teachers, facilitators, and leaders.

Music and Technology

Music and technology have enjoyed a important relationship throughout human history. For example, soon after the first drum was created, its users were likely inspired to improve its sound or other characteristics. Often what we mean today by "technology" is "electronic technology." Music and electronic technology have enjoyed a close relationship for over 100 years. From the creation of the phonograph to that of the Internet, music has embraced electronic technology as means of creation, performance, and dissemination. Musicians working in higher education use electronic technology to create, perform, and disseminate music. They also use electronic technology to aid in their teaching. Teaching now takes place simultaneously from two or more places around the world enabling musicians to share ideas without being present in the same locations.

Music Business and Industry

Teachers have an important relationship with the music business and industry. Without the industry, the art of music would be very different. Business and talent management; the recording industry and technology; radio, television, and film industries; publishing and licensing; and the manufacture and development of instruments all play important roles in making possible music creation, performance, study, teaching, learning, and appreciation. Music teachers and the music industry work together to support the cultural life of our communities.