Hi folks -
Here is another post I'll ask you to talk to. This assignment is different than I expected it to be - but very valuable.
The keynote talk yesterday was by Dr. David Meyers, Chair of the University of Minnesota Department of Music. Dr. Meyers' research is centered around the academic canon and how the curriculum (what we teach) relates to that. But that is not all. He is asking very pointed questions about WHAT we SHOULD be teaching in the 21st century and what we SHOULD NOT be teaching in the 21st century. What skills it is vital for an artist to have as they go out into the world, and how so many music programs are focusing on ancient and in some ways, outdated, obsolete traditions instead of being on the razor's edge of technological, musical and aesthetic development.
This is something I think about a lot - but the inertia involved with an Academic music program is pretty massive. To change offerings and the slant of a program would take a lot of collaborative work between all members of a program and it isn't something that is done lightly, or quickly.
To elaborate - his thought process was such: We are teaching students a set of skills (musicianship) at the exclusion of other skills - practical skills - that would allow them to better foster a career after graduation. Basically, there is a wealth of information that students learn to become - say - an orchestral player or player in a small chamber group in their local community. But what we aren't addressing is the idea that attendance to those events is down 39% over the last few years and by the time our current students are finished with school there may be little or no OPPORTUNITY to play in such a group because of attrition.
Why stick to a model of teaching that is going the way of the "do-do bird"?
We need to be - in addition to teaching musicianship - teaching you how to be a smart steward of your career. How to work with others - collaborate - to create your own opportunities for artistry. We need to teach you all how to make vital, meaningful connections with your communitities to both help your career and to help your community. By showing people the value of music in a society we can enrich their experiences, enrich our art and help create an interest in arts education that is lacking now.
His rationale was solid. He went on to talk about students today coming into college more aware of digital music, more likely to have recorded music in their home, more likely to have a clearly defined aesthetic because they are connected to their music all of the time through our mobile music players. Students have access to technology that brings the entire history of music to them daily!
Basically, the question I want to pose is this:
If you could create the curriculum for a department of music - come up with subjects that you would want to be able to study where you went - what what it look like? What skills/technology/topics etc. do you think are important to YOU as a musician and what would you absolutely NEED to study if you had the ability to study ANY subset within music?
I'll write more in a bit - but please talk to this last paragraph. Just a paragraph or two for each of you about your wants/needs in a music program.