Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Music from the Front: The merger of the Longy School of Music and Bard College

While looking online for free articles from the NY Times, as I do not have a subscription yet, I stumbled upon an article from last week's Boston Globe on the merger of the Longy School of Music and Bard College. This topic caught my eye, and is important to me, because I am a student at Longy. The summer before I was to begin my first semester, the issues with Longy's teachers desire to unionize as well as the teacher layoffs had me worried. I called Longy to be sure the teacher I was to study with was not one who had been laid off. She was not, thankfully, but my heart goes out to those who were let go.

One of the first things mentioned was that Bard and Longy have innovative ideas of the future training of musicians. According to the article, Bard urges the integration of music and the liberal arts whereas Longy works to connect its musicians to their communities. How will these ideals affect the music (and musicians) of the future?

Longy's largest program is its community program which provides learning and performance opportunities to children and adults within the community who are not necessarily pursuing a music degree. The community program has an average of 1,000 participants whereas the conservatory students number less than a quarter of that. Longy's community program is immensely important to Boston's music scene, particularly with all the "little" musicians that are furthering their music education within Longy's halls. Last spring, I took Dr. Evan's Pedagogy of Theory course during which we were required to observe a few of Longy's music courses. I chose to observe a few of the children's music theory classes, and was amazed at the competency of both the children and tutor. These prep classes are essentially bringing music and music education to the masses which brings me to what Bard's president Leon Botstein said in the article: "Music can no longer be taught as an athletic or self-referential exercise." This pertains to many of the concepts we've been discussing in this course, particularly the idea of returning music to the masses through education and exposure.

Longy has had a mostly quiet history and has long "been overshadowed by Boston's other music schools." For example, almost every time my husband mentions me and my music studies in a conversation, the most common question is "Does she go to Berklee?" Upon informing them that I attend Longy, they usually respond with a look of vague recollection and "is it that old house in Cambridge?"

Hopefully the merger of Bard and Longy will result in positive improvements for both schools. As both Longy and Bard are looking to what the future of classical music holds, they should integrate elements and ideas from both partner's successes, such as Bard's public music festivals and Longy's community program. The increased budget will hopefully allow Longy to expand its role in Boston's music community, particularly with the production of free concerts and the education of children.

Here is the link to the Boston Globe article (you will need to create a log-in to view):
On a side note, here is an interesting video I stumbled upon while browsing the NY Times website:

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