Yale Hosts Sixth Symposium on Music in Schools

Rubén Rodríguez, left, and Michael Yaffe during the 2017 Symposium on Music in Schools. Photo by Matt Fried

On June 15-17, the Yale School of Music hosted its sixth biennial Symposium on Music in Schools, an event at which 43 participants discussed “how to ensure that every child in every city in America has access to an active music life,” YSM Associate Dean Michael Yaffe said. That topic is one that Yaffe and Rubén Rodríguez, the lead teacher in YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative, have been thinking about for more than a year.

Among those invited to participate were public-school and university teachers and administrators, foundation leaders, music-education scholars, and public-policy experts who worked, Yaffe said, to “help us craft and complete a declaration about why music has the potential to change children’s lives and have an impact on issues of exclusion.” The purpose of the document, a draft of which was sent to participants ahead of the Symposium, is to “encourage the creation of ecosystems” that support the goal of guaranteeing children in city schools the same opportunities their suburban counterparts enjoy. The “gap” in quality public-school music education in the United States, Yaffe said, “is usually represented by city schools that don’t have full-time certified music teachers” or music-specific activities.

Symposium participant Tarik Ward, the director of music programs at ELMA Philanthropy Services, talked about the “story of inequity,” saying, “If you tell me your zip code, I can tell you your life story.” To Ward, the Symposium and the declaration that’s being crafted represent “an exercise in storytelling” about systemic inequity, and a chance to address “what we have to do” to bring about change. Music, Ward said, “is the cultural equalizer, the thing that everyone can do.”

Lara Davis, the arts education manager at Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, said the conversation about music education in city schools is part of a larger discussion about “the inequities that are running rampant across public education in this country,” and that the gathering at Yale “is a step in the process.”

Lara Davis, the arts education manager at Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture, addresses a working group during the 2017 Symposium on Music in Schools. Photo by Matt Fried

“We have to have an intersectional lens as we approach this,” and ask, “How does that inform the ways we talk about music?” Davis said.

Mike Blakeslee, the executive director and CEO of the National Association for Music Education, said, “We’ve constructed a system where the self-interest of many constituencies is not social justice. You can tell the story,” he said, but “the real question for me is, what are we going to do to make [change] really happen?”

In the coming months, Yaffe and Rodríguez, with YSM staff and input from Symposium participants, will finalize the declaration, launch a website, and identify organizations that will help disseminate the information. “We learned so much from this group of experts,” Yaffe said. In essence, the 2017 Symposium on Music in Schools was the opening salvo in what will be an ongoing effort to address the inequity that plagues America. And while the Symposium itself was an important step toward bringing about real change, what follows, in terms of the resulting document, will be even more critical.

In addition to brainstorming and sharing ideas and perspectives during the three-day event, participants also honored their peers. As has been tradition since the first Symposium on Music in Schools in 2007, the 2017 iteration included the presentation of Distinguished Music Educator Awards to 10 public-school music teachers, all of whom work in city schools.

The impetus for the efforts undertaken at the Symposium was the work of YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative, which was created in 2007 with an endowment from the Yale College Class of 1957.

Rodríguez looks forward to a paradigm shift in terms of how we think about music in schools. “We are declaring that we are all equal and we all deserve the same opportunities and freedoms and services and access to the same spaces and opportunities to thrive,” he said.

Related:
MUSIC IN SCHOOLS INITIATIVE
2017 SYMPOSIUM ON MUSIC IN SCHOOLS
YALE HONORS DISTINGUISHED MUSIC EDUCATORS

Published June 21, 2017
Share This Comments

[ music in schools ]

Symposium on Music in Schools June 4–7 to focus on music partnerships

Music in Schools - All City Honors Ensemble - 5

Music in Schools Initiative

The 2015 Yale Symposium on Music in Schools will take place June 4–7 on the Yale campus. This year, the event will focus on partnerships between public school systems and private music organizations.

Thirty-eight music partnerships from across the United States were selected to participate in the event. Two representatives from each partnership will travel to New Haven to take part in the biennial event. Over the course of four days, those representatives will participate in a variety of discussions and workshops, culminating with the presentation of the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Awards at the closing banquet.

The Symposium is designed to spark ideas and provoke conversation. Workshops on topical issues in music education will be followed by breakout sessions that will allow participants to explore ideas in depth. An event on Friday, June 5 will feature the Emanio String Quartet in a combination of conversation and performance. MORE

Published June 3, 2015
Share This Comments

[ events ]

Symposium on Music in Schools to reward partnerships June 2015

The Music in Schools Initiative is proud to announce the 2015 Yale Symposium on Music in Schools and Yale Distinguished Music Educators Awards. This year’s Symposium will be held June 4–7, 2015 at Yale University.

This year, the focus of these two activities is on partnership programs between public school music programs and professional music organizations. With support from an endowment established by the Yale College Class of 1957, the 2015 Symposium will honor thirty-five music education partnership programs from throughout the United States for their outstanding accomplishments teaching music in public schools.

Over the course of four days, two representatives from each partnership will participate in a variety of discussions and workshops, culminating with the presentation of the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Awards at the closing banquet.  MORE

Published November 25, 2014
Share This Comments

Fourth Symposium on Music in Schools to take place June 6–9, 2013

Fifty Yale Distinguished Music Educators Announced

The fourth Symposium on Music in Schools will take place at the Yale School of Music June 6–9, 2013. Supported by the Yale College Class of 1957, the Symposium is a core program of the Music in Schools Initiative honoring outstanding public school music teachers from around the United States. This biennial conference allows Music in Schools to extend its reach beyond the intensive ongoing programs with the New Haven Public Schools, onto a national level.

From a pool of nearly 300 nominees representing 45 states, a panel of music professionals from YSM and NHPS selected this year’s 50 Distinguished Music Educators. The selected educators hail from 32 different states, including the first ever Symposium attendees from Kansas and Mississippi. These music teachers will travel to New Haven, all expenses paid, from across the country to attend the four-day symposium.

Workshops and discussions at this year’s symposium will focus around one main theme: The Role of Music in School Reform. The issue of school reform is a hot topic throughout the nation. Between recent programs like the Race to the Top Fund and the Common Core State Standards, districts are in ongoing discussions about what exactly our young students should be learning. Often in recent years, music teachers have been compelled to fight to keep their programs off the chopping block. This year’s Symposium aims to bring attention to the very integral role music can play in school reform.

The four-day event will open with a workshop with Richard Deasy, former director of the Arts Education Partnership, on the history of music’s role in school reform. A panel including Scott Shuler, immediate past president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), will then deliberate current issues in school reform. David Myers, current director of the University of Minnesota School of Music, and Dantes Rameau ’07MM, co-founder of the Atlanta Music Project, will appear to discuss partnership programs between public schools and music organizations. The 50 teachers will be honored at an awards banquet at the conclusion of the weekend.

Yale Distinguished Music Educators 2013 MORE

Published March 14, 2013
Share This Comments

Distinguished Music Educators announced for 2011 Symposium on Music in Schools

A workshop at the 2009 Symposium.

The Yale School of Music is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2011 Distinguished Music Educator Awards.

The Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award is presented biennially by the Yale School of Music to participants in the Symposium on Music in Schools. These awards honor fifty music educators from across the country who are selected for their outstanding accomplishments teaching music in public schools.

This year, 330 educators from 45 U.S. states were nominated to received the award. A panel of music professionals selected fifty teachers, or 15% of all nominees. Three of those selected were nominated by members of the Yale College Class of 1957, which gave its 50th reunion class gift to the School of Music to improve the quality of public education in America.

Distinguished Music Educators at the 2009 Symposium.

As in previous years, the Distinguished Music Educators form a diverse group: they come from thirty different states; teach vocal as well as instrumental music across myriad genres; and work at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels in urban, rural, and suburban school districts. The selected educators will travel to New Haven, all expenses paid, to attend the 2011 Symposium on Music in Schools. They will be joined at the Symposium by the music teachers in the New Haven Public Schools.

This year’s Symposium will feature a keynote address by education journalist John Merrow. Participants will  attend a performance by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble and will be invited to a talk by Ma, presented in conjunction with the Silk Road Ensemble by the International Festival of Arts & Ideas.

Congratulations to the 2011 Yale Distinguished Music Educators: MORE

Published March 11, 2011
Share This Comments