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From the Dean

Posted by on Saturday, February 27, 2010 in From the Dean, Spring 2010.

Dean Mark Wait

In October, the faculty of the Blair School of Music approved the first major revision of our core curriculum for music majors since the inception of the collegiate program in 1986. This marks a major milestone in the Blair School’s evolution and continuing maturation.

It is really more accurate to say that the curriculum was overhauled rather than revised. When the planning committee that developed the new curriculum was organized in 2005, I asked them to consider not merely what changes we might make to the existing courses, but rather what today’s students will need to know—and be able to do—in 2030. In other words, what skills and knowledge will they need when they are at the point in their careers that we, the faculty, are right now?

Over the past four years, the planning committee and the faculty discussed these questions carefully and thoughtfully. For many of us, meeting the needs of the future meant that we had to distill the most essential features of what we had learned of the past. This can be (and often was) a wrenching exercise, for we were sometimes forced to turn our backs on concepts or repertoire that had been part of us for many years. On the other hand, it was bracing and exciting to learn of global developments and new horizons that have changed the world we inhabit and to develop ways of sharing that with our students.

The planning committee finally decided upon new curricula and approaches in three vital areas: music theory and musicianship (aural skills), music history and ensembles/chamber music. You will read of these changes in future issues of the Quarter Note. Meanwhile, this issue describes the new approach we are taking in musicianship under the dynamic leadership of its new director, Marianne Ploger, who joined the faculty in fall 2008.

The skills that Marianne and her associates, Joshua McGuire and David Williams, teach to our students are far-reaching and essential to continued music study and professional success. These outstanding faculty members have brought a thrilling vitality to their classes. Marianne has already captured national attention with her methods and success.

Thanks to Marianne and our other dedicated faculty members, the Blair School is maintaining its exciting trajectory. As readers of the Quarter Note know, we have made dramatic progress in recent years, and the new core curriculum for music majors marks a further advance, one in which our faculty, students and friends can take great pride.

Mark Wait, Dean
Martha Rivers Ingram Dean’s Chair