Roundtable Discussion:
Music and the University

Saturday, April 14, 2:30pm
Room 1145
Azure Stewart, chair

"Rethinking Music in American Universities: A Historical Perspective"

Michael Joiner, Musicology
University of California, Santa Barbara

My paper contextualizes the current state of university music programs in the United States by providing a historical perspective based on the academic origins of music in the late nineteenth century. I show that the educational paradigm established over one hundred years ago still exists. Furthermore, the issues that educational reformers and academics confronted at the end of the nineteenth century inform the problems facing music departments today.

As chronicled by intellectual historian Laurence Veysey, the modern American university was established in the decades following the Civil War. Amidst increasing public dissatisfaction with American higher education, intellectual leaders sought to save the floundering educational system by reevaluating the purpose of the American university. While some advocated for professionalization or research, others supported a movement focused on fostering so-called "liberal culture" — the refinement of graduates through the dissemination of the highest artistic and literary standards through courses on literature, philosophy, and the arts. It is in this context that music became established as a legitimate academic subject in the United States.

I use the influential music programs developed at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia to provide a nineteenth-century paradigm of university music study. These programs were designed through collaborative efforts of reform-minded administrators and composer-turned-professors. While unique in their own ways, all three catered to the mandates of liberal culture reform through widely popular general education courses in music history. In addition, the composers who were hired to head the new departments designed a multi-year curriculum in music theory, analysis, and composition in order to train the next generation of composers and critics. I draw connections between the nineteenth-century emphasis on analysis and history with today's university music programs in order to rethink the curricular values in light of the institutional history of music in academia.

"Pedagogical Crises in the Music History Classroom"

Scott Dirkse, Musicology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Like many graduate fields in both the humanities and sciences, the field of musicology has created its own disciplinary crisis: graduate musicology programs have focused their energy on producing talented researchers and scholars, yet these programs have failed to provide their students with adequate pedagogical preparation for the teaching roles that will assume a large part of their careers. This has created a field of music history teachers with little to no teacher training whose only pedagogical models are the courses they took themselves as students.

Of course, this pedagogical crisis is certainly not exclusive to the field of musicology; many higher education programs, especially in the humanities, focus their curricula on preparing students to be scholars, failing to acknowledge that many graduates will spend a majority of their careers in a classroom. Fortunately, there is a growing body of literature on college teaching that aims to increase teaching quality at the university level. In addition some of our colleagues in other fields have begun to do their own pedagogical research to increase the teaching quality of their specific subjects. One way musicologists can alleviate the disciplinary crisis they have created is by looking outside their music libraries and examining and drawing from this vast body of educational research. This paper examines the methodologies employed by music history pedagogues and investigates to what extent they have taken advantage of the educational literature and looked to other disciplinary models for solutions.

"Musicology and the Crisis of Interdisciplinarity"

Linda Shaver-Gleason, Musicology
University of California, Santa Barbara

"Music history, in our view, is still being written with too much 'music' and too little 'history.'"
—Meirion Hughes and Robert Stradling, The English Musical Renaissance 1840-1940: Constructing a National Music, 2nd Edition (2001).

When historians Hughes and Stradling published their book The English Musical Renaissance 1860-1940 in 1993, musicology was becoming more receptive toward approaches from other disciplines. Hughes and Stradling's provocative thesis, characterizing the English Musical Renaissance as a nationalistic endeavor motivated by political anxiety, seemed compatible with the more contextually-concerned New Musicology. What the historians failed to fully anticipate, however, was the extent of musicology's disciplinary crisis. While many musicologists could accept that politics exert some influence on music, a considerable number were still unsettled by the degree to which these historians attributed events not to non-musical manipulation. Subsequent reviews in musicological journals not only argued with the authors' premise but also took issue with its presentation, describing the book's tone as "arrogant" and the authors as too "ideologically motivated." The authors denied the aesthetic value of the works they discussed, dismissing a dimension many musicologists find vital. To Hughes and Stradling, these reviews revealed that although musicological institutions claimed to value interdisciplinarity, they were too conservative to participate in it.

Although these events took place nearly two decades ago, they raise questions that remain relevant: What does interdisciplinarity mean for music? To what extent should music be treated as an aesthetic object? I propose that this shorter paper, outlining the conflict through the two editions of Hughes and Stradling's book and reviews in musicological publications, be used as a launching point for a discussion between the participants of this conference. No doubt many in attendance will be familiar with the frustrations expressed in this case study, leading to an enriching interdisciplinary dialogue.

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