Our rationale for keeping music united – continued

By royal hartigan, Contributing Writer


Absent from the discussion is the consideration of what reorganization/division will do to our department’s accreditation. The NASM (National Association of Schools of Music) and NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design) have standards and expectations for institutions they accredit.

While institutions are the entities accredited, it is the actual programs in a department that are the factors in accreditation evaluation.

Their standards are a goal for all music departments and in speaking with past presidents of the NASM and other officials it is clear that music departments are successful when they are under one roof.

I was told that the typical non-unified structure is a general education degree in a university where in their last two years’ courses are added in a student’s major focus, such as history, math, science, music, art.

These programs typically are not as successful in music since the students so not receive the full performance- and music-related courses over the 4-year period of their study, essential to success.

Music education graduates from 4- or more year programs fare significantly better when their experience is grounded in music performance, since it is a professional degree toward licensure.

NASM accredits an institution through a comprehensive peer-review process that considers curricular programs that fall under the purview of title, content, and intention; music education fulfills all three, so NASM expectations are highly relevant to any music education accreditation, and can only happen successfully at an acceptable level when connected to music performance.

In the current discussion of combining Music education and Art education as one department, a close analysis shows their differing process, nature and competencies.

These factors are relevant to the issue of their separation or combination. There are two types of competencies listed by NASM and NASAD outcomes/competencies in music education and art education: teaching and field specialization.

It is mistaken to compare the teaching competencies between Music and Art Ed, since these are competencies shared in any case with most other fields, such as Math, Science, History, Language, or English.

The relevant comparison is in the field specialization competencies, that are as follows:

Art Education: 4 competencies, plus an advanced competency that offers ‘performance’ (studio art) as an option for art education majors;

Music Education: 19 competencies, 15 of which are performance-based, and most of which our music department fulfills.

Our department, therefore, needs unity to be successful, and it is possible to have restructuring and still keep our department unified and effective, since one of the original CVPA restructure committee options did precisely that.

3) PRACTICAL ISSUES OF DEPARTMENTAL DIVISION or, to requote, ‘If it ain’t broke, fix it till it is.’

A division of our Music Department into two entities creates dangerous vulnerabilities apart from accreditation, related to potential student admission, potential funding support, and successful student outcomes:

a) A reduced number of students (currently about 21) in a ‘performance’ Music Department would create an approximate 1:1 student-faculty ratio that is untenable for administration funding support; if numbers are said to be a factor in solving the college’s support issues, a division will only serve to lower music’s numbers, spilt into two smaller departments.

Given that the announced reasons for restructuring have to do with student numbers, curriculum, scholarship, and student advancement, in each case music will lose its value and impact if it is folded into another program (Music Education and Art Education) and at the same time left adrift (Music ‘Performance’).

b) This lower student major number would adversely affect prospective new students from coming to such a small department;

c) Such a low enrollment without a full department including both performance and education will have the consequence of limited offerings that would negatively affect our upcoming NASM accreditation; it is possible/likely that the performance unit would not pass accreditation, and thus be liable for closure; since music education cannot successfully exist without being intimately tied to performance, it could mean the end of music education as well;

d) Music as the only performing art of all the arts in our CVPA would be compromised;

e) Music education is performance-based; it has playing ability as a necessary, essential requirement from initial audition through a 4-year path and graduation to outcomes/careers in performance and education.

Music education students are mandated to have fluency and high-level skills in music performance in order to teach at a professional level.

Instrumental and vocal fluency and diversity (vocal, keyboard, strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion) are required to perform at a high level to be able to teach music at a standard acceptable in the public schools. This includes daily curricular immersion in music making while at UMD.

f) For curriculum (and pedagogy/methods) as a performing art, there is no other department or program in the college that has the same process of making, presenting, teaching, or learning our respective art form that music is a real-time-and-space creative act;

These qualities set Music Education apart from Art Education and all the visual arts’ departments, and further document why Music can only exist successfully as a united department for our students.



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