School’s Out For the Summer!

It is summer again. For those of us who teach at institutions, this is often a time to leave aside those responsibilities and focus on composing, which, during the academic year, often gets pushed aside as obligations to our students and schools take precedence.

Those of us who teach in private studios, however, usually must continue to juggle writing music with teaching it. I am in this latter camp, but this summer I am going do a variation of what my salaried colleagues do. I am teaching minimally and will be taking a sabbatical from writing for NewMusicBox until the fall in order to write more music.

During my break, not only am I going to pump up the volume with composing, but I plan to take the time to reflect on the many topics and discussions that my Chatter contributions have fostered over the past year. Many of you have participated in the online discussion of the subjects, and many more of you have shared your thoughts with me privately. From finding ways to encourage the performance of new music by students to creating opportunities for all composers to write for young players and considering how to help educators find their way to us, many penetrating questions have been raised. How do we collaborate with colleagues from other fields? How do we get rid of the stigma of writing for non-professionals? How do we address the still preferential treatment composers with degrees get versus composers who write in certain genres? Perhaps most importantly, how do we create the means to address these problems?

Many suggestions and solutions have been offered, from using grassroots methods to working with the already created infrastructures of our communities. As I use my break to ruminate about all of these, my one burning question is, how has this online conversation made a difference? What issues, if any, have any of us acted on in response to reading about them here? Have our words encouraged actual change? Or has it merely functioned as a sounding board, a place for us to come together and share our ideas?

In my absence, Teresa McCollough will take up the reigns here on Monday. Teresa is a not a composer, but a pianist who has used her extensive performance career to promote the music of living composers. She will bring a vital new perspective to this conversation as we continue to address how to encourage and promote the players who perform our music and help connect audiences with the music of today. See you in the fall!

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