Monday, December 29, 2008

R.I.P. Freddie Hubbard



. . . one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time passed away today.

Among Freddie Hubbard's fine recordings is his unforgettable solo on the title track to Herbie Hancock's album Maiden Voyage (1965, Blue Note Records). In the same period he also contributed some highly innovative playing to Eric Dolphy's landmark avant garde album Out to Lunch (1964). In recent decades, some of Freddie Hubbard's great recordings have been from live performances in Japan with the group V.S.O.P.

Link for more information:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/30/AR2008123002881.html

Music for All



Cochlear Implants may soon enable the deaf to experience music.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why Become a Music Professor?

It can seem at times that the path to becoming a music professor is quite long and difficult, and that in the end it might even turn out to not be worthwhile. Why is this so?

Here, for example, is a link to Sarah Schmalenberger’s brilliant review of musicologist Henry Kingsbury’s recent book that paints an unprecedentedly bleak picture of the field of ethnomusicology (p. 38):

Regardless of the extent to which Kingsbury’s account may (or may not) turn out to be very reliable, his tragic reflections provide unusually penetrating insights into the kinds of formidable challenges that are too often encountered during the early stages of an academic career in music. Such writings are certainly not for the faint of heart, and should be approached with the same kind of cautious skepticism reserved for other books in a similar vein, such as Mozart in the Jungle. Still, there is something to be learned from this genre, as long as it does not inspire prejudice or paranoia among its readers, especially for those who would otherwise enter academia with na├»ve expectations. This genre also provides important food for thought as one strives to envision improved policies and procedures for academic governance, management, and evaluation that might prevent the recurrence of perceived injustices, whether real or merely imagined. All devoted music teachers should be given good reason to feel genuinely appreciated by their superiors and peers, and all should also give (and be given) the benefit of the doubt, rather than allowing differences to turn into destructive hostility.

It seems best to keep in mind that despite the kinds of challenges discussed by Schmalenberger and Kingsbury (from different perspectives), there are obvious signs of improvement within higher education music programs throughout much of the world, and many find that after enduring some difficulties the teaching, performing, and researching of music becomes a highly enjoyable and fulfilling profession. There are still many good reasons to become a music professor, and many prospective colleagues in the field of music who are genuinely admirable people.
* Music professors make a positive difference by helping others to better understand music and enjoy participation in musical activities, as well as by advancing their art form.

* Music professors also expand musical knowledge through research, and devise new ways to more effectively create and share music.


Here is a link to a helpful article on "employability" in the field of music:


Here is a link to an article that, although a bit simplistic at times, makes some useful points regarding the process of becoming a music professor. Its contents are particularly relevant to prospective teachers of music performance:
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/434252/how_to_become_a_college_music_professor.html





Monday, December 22, 2008

Projects in Early 2009


In addition to mentoring doctoral students (who I hope to see finish their degrees soon), I will be working on several music projects in early 2009: Books, grant applications, lectures, recording sessions, program development, and research editing.


Books

I am currently writing a chapter entitled “Ethnicity and Music Education: Sociological Dimensions” for the book Sociology and Music Education (Ed., Ruth Wright) that will be published on Ashgate Press. In recent months I have completed chapters for the books De-Canonizing Music History (Cambridge Scholars Press), Music Education for Changing Times: Guiding Visions for Practice (Springer), and Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education (Rowman-Littlefield), as well as for my own book Wind Bands and Cultural Identity in Japanese Schools (Springer), all of which will be published in 2009.


Grants

In 2009 I will be applying for funding to support some Nordic research associated with the global Sustainable Futures in Music project of Huib Schippers. I am also currently designing a proposal for a multi-national research project on the use of new music technologies in targeted urban centers of Europe, Asia, and North America.


Lectures

I will be giving lectures on music-related topics in ten countries in 2009. The first of these is a keynote lecture on “How Music Education Research Approaches Music” in Orebro, Sweden for the Nordic Network of Research in Music Education. The topics of other presentations include “Virtuality and Music Education in Online Environments,” “On Maori music,” and “Institutionalizing Popular Music Pedagogy: Lessons from Jazz Education.” I am also currently planning a conference presentation in collaboration with Marja Heimonen.


Recordings

I will finally be spending some time in the recording studio in early 2009 to record several new original songs I wrote over the past few years. I am also producing some original music for New Zealand playwright Susan Battye's Telling Tales book series and singing with Kampin Laulu in a recording session for their CD on Alba Records.


Program Development

Lauri Vakeva and I have recently developed a proposal for a Master of Music degree with emphasis in popular music pedagogy, for which we will be seeking partnerships and external funding from music industry and various foundations. As a member of the GLOMUS network of Nordic higher education music academies, I am also contributing to development of a new inter-institutional Nordic Master of World Music degree.

Editing

Soon the editorial board will release a "Call for Papers" for a special issue of the Finnish Journal of Music Education on multicultural music education, for which I am serving as Guest Editor in mid-2009. I am also continuing on the Editorial Board of Research and Issues in Music Education and as Associate Editor of International Journal of Education and the Arts for at least a few more months. Alexandra Kertz-Welzel and I will also move forward with resubmitting our proposal for a co-edited book to academic publishers.



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Slatkin and Music Research


A recent article in the Detroit Free Press celebrates renowned American conductor Leonard Slatkin’s premier as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on December 11, 2008: http://www.freep.com/article/20081212/ENT04/81212013/1039/ent

In the article, Slatkin, who is acknowledged as “one of the leading American conductors of his generation,” is quoted as saying, “I don’t want to hear about the impact of music education on SAT scores.” Why would Slatkin make such a statement regarding music and standardized tests? Searches through international music research databases reveal only one notable publication that discusses the impact of music education on SAT scores:


Music makes the difference: Music, brain development, and learning. Reston, VA: Music Educators National Conference (MENC) 2000.


Slatkin’s remarks may be interpreted as a subtle rebuke of those who disseminate dubious and irrelevant research claims as part of their “advocacy” efforts on behalf of American school music programs. But why should the unique problems of American school music advocacy be of concern to leading musicians? It is important to recognize here that some music educators consider budget cuts to school music programs to constitute an emergency situation for which an “anything goes” approach to advocacy is acceptable. If research can be found that suggests, for example, that students will die of scurvy if they do not receive a daily dose of music education and cod liver oil, some would probably use it as a basis for their advocacy efforts to “save” music.

Slatkin seems to understand the fundamental reasons why this regrettable kind of “advocacy” is only encountered in a very specific and localized field. Most teachers of history and mathematics have never had to consider the idea of using research to justify their existence, and many music teachers in the vast majority of nations outside the United States have never heard of “music advocacy” and would probably have difficulty comprehending what it actually means in practice.

Rather than placing so much effort on advocating outdated traditional school music programs on the basis of unconvincing claims, surely efforts are better spent on transforming music programs into centers of relevant, lifelong musical activity valued by the local community.This is where researchers and music organizations should be focusing their attention.

Slatkin understands that music education is much too important to be justified on the basis of its potential to instill patriotism, to enhance test scores in mathematics or reading, or to improve the brain development of students. Slatkin also seems to recognize that some forms of music advocacy are misguided, useless and even destructive. While music research sometimes only serves to increase the division between theory and practice, it is best conducted with an awareness of the “bigger picture,” informed by the broader insights of social critics and historians, as well as expert artists and practitioners. In this way research may lead to insights that empower positive transformations, so music education is valued naturally without the need for aggressive advocacy campaigns.



Saturday, December 6, 2008

Music Learning via Electronic Gaming

British organization Youth Music has released an interesting report by Andrew Missingham entitled Why Console Games are Bigger than Rock and Roll. The report examined the following questions:

  • Are young people being attracted to making music via these games?
  • Do music-games add value to or replace other ways that young people make and listening to music?
  • Are young people making music, or learning about music, on consoles instead of on “traditional” instruments?
  • Are people starting on games consoles, then going on to other more "traditional” music making methods?
  • What can games developers and console and peripheral manufacturers do improve music-games?

A copy of the full report may be downloaded here:

Download Why console games are bigger than Rock and Roll
(709KB PDF)

Here is a link to a related article in the UK’s Telegraph entitled Computer Games Inspire Children to Learn Musical Instruments:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/technology/3566594/Computer-games-inspire-children-to-learn-musical-instruments.html


In 1995 I conducted a study on karaoke and Japanese youth culture with sociolinguist Shigeru Taneda, the initial results of which were published in the Yamanashi Gakuin Journal of General Education. More than 12 years ago, Professor Taneda and I expressed our astonishment regarding the creative ways that Japanese youth were using many of the technologies that have only recently been popularized in North America, the UK and elsewhere. These include what was called in 1995 the Karaoke Battle Station, a device that assigned scores to competing singers, as well as games that required dancing, performance on taiko drums, and various rock instruments. Some of these music technologies have still not been marketed for personal ownership outside of Japan, and new devices have continued to be developed.

This is among the various topics that I will examine further during the summer of 2009 at Nichibunken, the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, in Kyoto.