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
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YSM honors Distinguished Music Educators

The Yale School of Music is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Yale Distinguished Music Educator Awards. Ten awardees, who represent city school districts across the United States, will be honored at the sixth Symposium on Music in Schools, which takes place June 15-17 on the Yale University campus.

The recipients were identified and nominated in partnership with the National Association for Music Education and the VH1 Save the Music Foundation. They were selected in recognition of their innovative approaches to music education, their dedication to the urban communities in which they teach, and their unwavering desire to make a substantive difference in the lives of students and families.

“The Yale School of Music is continuing its tradition of recognizing exceptional music teachers working in schools across the United States,” YSM Associate Dean Michael Yaffe said. “This year, we’re focusing specifically on the leadership of educators in city schools whose work is made more critical by a growing disparity in opportunities for music-making in America’s cities.”

The biennial Symposium on Music in Schools provides a national forum for the discussion of the role that music and music-teaching plays in community development. The 2017 Symposium, which will focus on the role that music-making plays in America’s city schools, will mark 10 years since the Music in Schools Initiative was launched with an endowment from the Yale College Class of 1957. MORE

Published May 12, 2017
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Convocation 2016 Celebrates “Transcendent Yale Legacy”

YSM Dean Robert Blocker | Photo by Harold Shapiro

YSM Dean Robert Blocker | Convocation 2016

In his Convocation address, titled Music: A Transcendent Yale Legacy, School of Music Dean Robert Blocker told incoming and returning students, faculty, staff, and guests that “transcendent qualities are born and nurtured by people. Yale University and the School of Music are a collection of voices, a community and society of mutual learners. We, along with our predecessors, came here to better prepare ourselves to repair the world.

“It may surprise some of you to know that when the Yale Corporation voted to establish a School of Music in 1894, they also approved a Bachelor of Music degree that was open to women and men,” Blocker said in his remarks during the September 8, 2016, ceremony. “Cynics might say that not offering a Bachelor of Arts in Music retained the exclusivity of Yale College as a male enclave, but I find it a lot more interesting and compelling that music was Yale’s very first commitment to diversity and inclusivity.”

Celebrating the “transcendent voices” that have shaped the School’s legacy, Blocker recognized Ellen and Carl Stoeckel, Helen Hagan, Elaine Toscanini, Aldo Parisot, and Willie Ruff, among others.

“These transcendent musical voices of Yale and their cultural leadership transform lives, enrich communities, and bring hope to a broken world,” Blocker said. “Yale’s sons and daughters entrusted some of humankind’s treasures to us so that the transcendent qualities of character and mind, of light and truth – Yale’s motto, lux et veritas – can live through each of us and can bring hope to our planet. That is our responsibility, and it is our joy.” MORE

Published September 12, 2016
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[ in the press ]

Yale Symposium 2015: Music in the Schools

Polyphonic.org | By Ann Drinan

The Yale School of Music held its fifth Symposium on Music in the Schools on June 5 & 6, 2015 in New Haven to explore the role of music partnerships. A gift from the Yale College class of 1957, the Music in the Schools symposium, held every other year, honors public school music teachers from around the country. Previous symposiums explored music as a child’s birthright; El Sistema programs in America; integrating music in the classroom and the relationship between teaching artists and public school music teachers; and the role of music in school reform.

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Associate Dean Michael Yaffe

Associate Dean Michael Yaffe invited Polyphonic to attend the opening day session on June 6th, to which New Haven public music school teachers were also invited.

The Symposium also welcomed representatives from “Distinguished Music Education Partnerships” from across the country[…]. 39 partnership programs participated, 25 (64%) of which involved a partnership with a symphony orchestra or opera company. MORE

Published June 30, 2015
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[ 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
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[ music in schools ]

Winning participants announced for fifth Yale Symposium on Music in Schools

David Lang

David Lang

The Yale School of Music is pleased to announce the participants selected for the fifth Symposium on Music in Schools, which will take place June 4–7, 2015 on the Yale campus. This year’s Symposium will focus on partnerships between professional music organizations and public school music programs.

All participants will receive the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award and will send representatives to the Symposium to participate in three days of strategic sessions. Featured speakers include MacArthur Fellow Sebastian Ruth, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, and author/journalist Joanne Lipman.

The 2015 winners comprise 38 partnerships hailing from 19 states and the District of Columbia. The majority represent urban school districts, but many are from suburban and rural districts. The music organizations include orchestras, jazz, opera, community music schools, and concert presenters. Among the participants are such major organizations as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Cliburn Competition, Astral Artists, and the National Symphony Orchestra. MORE

Published March 23, 2015
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[ events ]

Symposium with conductor James Conlon Oct. 16

james_conlon,_credit_dan_steinberg_for_la_opera_4The Yale School of Music presents a symposium on “Reading and Hearing Classical Music: A Conductor’s View” with renowned conductor James Conlon on Wednesday, October 16.

The event opens with a talk by Conlon, which is followed by an open conversation between Conlon and Robert Blocker, Dean of the Yale School of Music. Parts of his talk will focus on music of Benjamin Britten, in honor of the centennial of Britten’s birth this year. Conlon will also take questions from the audience.

The event takes place from 4:00–5:30 pm in Morse Recital Hall, located in Sprague Hall at 470 College Street, New Haven. Admission is free, and no tickets are required.

The symposium will also stream live on the School of Music’s website. LIVE STREAM MORE

Published October 3, 2013
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[ music in schools ]

Symposium affirms diversity of music education in American public schools

symposium13-1

The 2013 Yale Symposium on Music in Schools concluded on June 8 with an affirmation of the quality and diversity of music education in the public schools of America. Fifty Yale Distinguished Music Educators, selected from over 300 nominations, from 32 states, convened in New Haven to discuss “The Role of Music in School Reform.”  A lively series of presentations culminated with a two-hour discussion amongst the teachers,  seeking their solutions to ensuring the value of music instruction as schools continue to evolve.  This discussion will be posted as an online video by the end of the summer. MORE

Published June 24, 2013
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Videos from the 2013 Symposium on Music in Schools

The Yale Symposium on Music Schools took place June 6–9, 2013 and focused on The Role of Music in School Reform.

Watch these videos of the lively and thought-provoking talks from the event, featuring David Myers, Scott Shuler, Garth Harries, and keynote speaker Anne Midgette.

For more details on the Symposium, please see this post. If you cannot play the video below, click here.

Published June 19, 2013
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