Re-Imagining Arts Higher Education

With classes out of session, hopefully the middle of summer provides some time for those of us involved with arts higher education to reflect on our curriculum, requirements, and goals.

The educational model for the vast majority arts programs today is virtually identical (within each discipline) from university to university. Though each school certainly has unique strengths and weaknesses, most are designed around the same basic framework. In a world where all of the rules seem to be changing at a breakneck pace, is there not room for a few brave programs to adopt unconventional, innovative approaches? If some were bold enough to re-imagine parts of their structure, might there be benefits to both students and the institution?

Of course, just because something is common doesn’t inherently make it ineffective. Conversely, different doesn’t automatically mean superior. And solving one problem typically creates a host of others.

That said, it is hardly controversial to suggest that the arts world can benefit from new thinking and fresh solutions. Why not mirror that reality by offering an assortment of archetypes across arts higher education?

Imagine, for example, how the following reforms would impact the educational experience. Please understand, I am not necessarily recommending that programs adopt all of the changes below, or even any of them. The point here is that there are many ways to approach arts and education, and society benefits from a greater menu of perspectives.

Paradigm 1: AUDITIONS

  • Traditional model. Acceptance process is based on artistic ability, grades, and college entrance exams (like the SAT).
  • An alternative. Acceptance also weighs other issues such as creativity, leadership, collaborative skills, or entrepreneurial inclinations.

Paradigm 2: MAJORING IN THE ARTS

  • Traditional model. Students are expected to choose a major in a singular artistic field.  (Some programs allow “double majoring,” but this options typically requires more time in school.)
  • An alternative. Encourage or require students to select at least two areas of specialty throughout their single degree program. This priority reflects the real world, where artists must possess multiple skill sets to survive and thrive.

Paradigm 3: CURRICULUM

  • Traditional model. Most curricula are chock full of requirements, with very little room for electives.
  • An alternative. Create programs with a high percentage of electives (combined with outstanding advising), allowing students to create a unique education specifically relevant to them.

Paradigm 4: CLASSES & ASSIGNMENTS

  • Traditional model. Classes are typically built around a lecture. Students are assigned homework or projects to complete on their own time.
  • An alternative. On their own time, students watch lectures online. During class, the teacher works interactively with them on homework, projects, and other experiential endeavors.

Paradigm 5: PRIVATE LESSONS

  • Traditional model. Music students typically take a one hour lesson with a specialist in their area each week (i.e. violinist study with violin professors).
  • Alternative A. For at least one semester, each student studies with someone from another artistic specialty. Imagine the lessons a violinist might learn from a cellist, trombonist, dancer, or painter.
  • Alternative B. For at least one semester, each student studies with a career mentor rather than an artistic one (or does both).
  • Alternative C. Teachers are in their office for certain hours each week. Students are free to show up as often as they want, and stay as long as they desire. If unprepared one week, perhaps they shouldn’t waste the teacher’s time with a meeting. On the other hand, maybe someone could benefit from 3 lessons a week leading to an audition. This open structure also allows students to observe their teacher interacting with others who face similar/different challenges, teaching valuable lessons in pedagogy and beyond. (This is the model I experienced when studying composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, Austria).

Paradigm 6: ARTS HISTORY

  • Traditional model. History classes are taught chronologically, focusing on masterworks and masterminds.
  • Alternative A. Approach this class in reverse chronology, starting with what is relevant today. (Incidentally, this is how history really works. Everyone lives in the present, and is informed by what came before.)
  • Alternative B. Additional focus placed on the business models of artists throughout history, successful and not, since that is a challenge that will surely face our students.

Paradigm 7: THEORY CLASS

  • Traditional model. Most energy focused on developing technique. Secondary emphasis on learning literature. Smallest emphasis on creative projects (improv, composition, etc.).
  • An alternative. Flip the equation.

Paradigm 8: ARTS EDUCATION

  • Traditional model. Student teaching takes place during the last year of study, after students have “learned” many tricks of the trade.
  • An alternative. Student teaching also occurs during the first year of study. This shows them what needs to be learned early on, and frames their entire college experience.

Paradigm 9: DOCTORAL EXAMS

  • Traditional model. After coursework is complete, doctoral candidates take oral exams covering a huge body of information, some of which was learned during the degree. (I studied for eight months prior to my orals, 12 hours per day. Though I hate to brag, if you had met me the day of orals, I was really smart!  That day…)
  • An alternative. Begin the degree with some version of orals. Get people excited about researching and learning on their own before choosing classes.

Paradigm 10: DEGREE RECITALS

  • Traditional model. For musicians, this solo recitals features a pre-determined assortment of styles performed in a school hall very well.
  • Alternative A. See the article here.
  • Alternative B. Require chamber recitals instead of solo events, emphasizing the importance of collaboration.

Paradigm 11: INTERNSHIPS

  • Traditional model. Students in some majors are required to complete a summer or semester-long internship as part of their degree program.
  • An alternative. Partner students with an external organization throughout their studies, so they are constantly challenged by real-world, practical concerns and trends.

Paradigm 12: FACULTY SCHOLARSHIP

  • Traditional model. Tenure-track/tenured faculty members are required to publish or produce other scholarship in an area of expertise. Institutions tend to value: 1) peer-reviewed, 2) national/international profile, 3) non-teaching, and non-service related (writing a textbook or helping out a local community are nice, but they usually counts as “teaching” or “service” respectively, not “scholarship”).
  • Alternative A. Give the option of weighing scholarship by other metrics. If your provocative blog post is read by 100,000 people, its impact may be as great or greater than an article written for an academic journal read only by a handful of like-minded specialists.
  • Alternative B. Reward people for making a difference locally, rather than placing highest value on out of town initiatives.
  • Alternative C. Emphasize the importance of research related to teaching and doing meaningful work within the community by carving a path for some of these activities to count as “scholarship.”

What do you think?  Let’s start a dialogue.

RELATED ARTICLES:


Related Posts with Thumbnails
Share and Enjoy:
  • email
  • Print
  • RSS
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • Mixx
  • Blogplay
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Buzz

133 Responses to “Re-Imagining Arts Higher Education”

  1. [...] and tweaked it a bit?  What if like David Cutler, over at the Savvy Musician Blog, we just RE-IMAGINED it?  Check out his [...]

  2. GRacias por la informacion, ha sido de gran ayuda, yo me encuentro preocupado por la perdida del cabello.

  3. 、なのをっアップをっる。するには、これはにってみよう、。ワンシュウは、とはのをしたに、するためのをするためにすべてのをのまま。ごちそうがしたら、ののが2のホ�
    ブルガリ 通販

  4. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I navigate this site regularly…

  5. Hello there. I was considering adding a hyperlink back to your website since both of our sites are based around the same subject. Would you prefer I link to you using your site address: or blog title: . Please let me know at your earliest convenience. Kudos

  6. I really like your writing style, excellent info , thankyou for putting up : D.

  7. BOTTLES LOVEはガラスジャー 激安販売:http://www.bottleslove.com/をはじめとするガラス容器、プラスチック容器、アルミ容器の小ロット卸売りから大ロットの発注生産まで対応できる販売、製造業者です。
    上海から、日本または他の国へ激安の遮光瓶 格安販売:http://www.bottleslove.com/等を輸出しています。
    ガラスボトル 卸販売 http://www.bottleslove.com/

  8. Yes! Finally someone writes about %keyword1%.|

  9. Good site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!|

  10. Admiring the time and energy you put into your site and detailed information you present. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  11. Howdy just came upon your website from Bing after I entered in, “” or something similar (can’t quite remember exactly). Anyways, I’m relieved I found it because your subject material is exactly what I’m searching for (writing a university paper) and I hope you don’t mind if I collect some material from here and I will of course credit you as the source. Thanks.

  12. I have gone ahead and added a hyperlink back to your webpage from one of my clientele requesting it. I have used your web site URL: and blog title: to make sure that you get the proper anchor text. If you woud like to see where your link has been placed, please contact me at: my mail. Thank you

  13. What’s up, after reading this remarkable piece of writing i am too happy to share my know-how here with friends.|

  14. Teldat says:

    Thanks fore your information it is more useful for me. you need information about technology please visit here:: http://www.teldat.com/en/page.php?cnt_id=HSUPA-HSDPA-GRPS-smart-grid-routers-for-utilities

  15. air cleaner says:

    I am truly happy to glance at this blog posts which includes lots of helpful information, thanks for providing these information.|

  16. puduvai says:

    hi thanks for this post,it’s more useful for me.you need information about decorators visit here:www.puduvaidecors.com

  17. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement? My site has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my permission. Do you know any techniques to help protect against content from being ripped off? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  18. I like the valuable information you supply in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and test once more right here frequently. I’m slightly certain I will learn a lot of new stuff proper here! Best of luck for the next!|

  19. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will remember to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back from now on. I want to encourage that you continue your great job, have a nice morning!

  20. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. thank you

  21. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website: . I most certainly will aslo make sure to give you the appropriate anchortext hyperlink using your webpage title: . Be sure to let me know if this is acceptable with you. Thanks!

  22. Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  23. Continuing says:

    Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  24. Your web site seems to be having some compatibilty problems in my ie browser. The wording appears to be running off the page pretty bad. If you would like you can email me at: my mail and I’ll shoot you over a screen grab of the problem.

  25. It would be terrible to reach somewhere and find the digital camera full
    of pictures of the inside of your respective pocket along with
    your batteries down. The top quality of the visuals inside your photograph depends to
    a large extent on the way in which your camera manages light.
    Best underwater camera Here is often a round up of effective
    waterproof cases for your Motorola Droid X.

    Some commonly used varieties of underwater cameras are wide-angled
    lens and macro lens. We accumulated seven in the best water proof camera with of these video cameras from Panasonic ranging in the micro-four thirds type
    for the simple point-and-shoot.

  26. hero says:

    Hey there just came upon your site from Google after I joined in, “” or something identical (can’t quite keep in thoughts exactly). Anyways, I’m treated I came across it because your information is exactly what I’m looking for (writing an excellent paper) and Hopefully you don’t thoughts if I gather something from here and I will of course credit score you as the resource. Thanks.

  27. nerf gans says:

    With more plus more franchisees and number of Ben 10 to check out,
    the demand for toys is just set to increase as more plus
    much more characters enter into play. in fact there’s the advantage too these mechanical toys will not want a battery as an influence supply.
    Best nerf gans gun ever 2014
    These toys vary from manipulative toys, dressing-up, board games, musical instruments and electronics such as
    robots.

    The entire scenario behind the invention of toys is that they
    are to be liked, but section of that pleasure includes ensuring the toys feel at ease and sound for your children. A bonus with this
    particular toy is which it’s a green company; their toys are made from recycled rubberwood that is
    non-chemically treated so you know it’s safe on your gift recipient.

  28. In her book, ‘PASSPORT TO BEAUTY,’ she shares a few of her secrets.
    You may shave or wax, but so as to get the top results, you need to make sure you delay at least 1 day afterwards.
    Skin care reviews UV (ultra-violet) light in the sun contains
    the potential to damage someone’s skin because than it radioactive effect.

    If you will not do this chances are you’ll clog your pores and
    obtain pimples. The genius of CVS, Walgreens and Rite
    Aid has yet ahead to Europe.

    Find Hindi News, Chhattisgarh news in Hindi and west bengal news in hindi on every topic at jagran. liked [http://www.ted.com/] beauty tips diy We get the
    details regarding the climatic, political and economical
    condition of eastern and western states.

  29. Vitamin deficiencies are a result of massive refinement of
    food; processing food destroys the dynamic vitality in food.
    Dairy Food, used excessively, has changed into a major part from the diet.
    Weed ve ever eaten at the fraction from the cost of ready-made products.

    Even when you eat over dollar menu, you save hundreds of dollars annually by bringing
    your lunch to operate each day. Instead of earning pitcher after pitcher, you can create one large
    batch to keep from the refrigerator whatsoever times.

    So, stop dawdling and read the internet new version of Divya Marathi paper while
    sitting at your house . or in your workplaces. does vodca spoil open going bad You may easily take it in your
    thumb-drive and see Live television channels on your own PC.

  30. Getting to purchase electric razors guarantee that
    clean shaven guise. These electric razor replacement heads razor blades
    are hypoallergenic, cause less irritation and therefore are ideal for people with
    sensitive skin. Electric razor scooter e300 battery Careful wielding in the razor is important; however, nobody would like to nick their nether
    regions during this process.

    Without a doubt, all this on account of Philips razor any
    particular one could possess wonderful look and feel.
    To get a fantastic shave, you need a razor that suits your skin layer.

  31. If you’d like to create a homemade Wi-Fi Amplifier or Antenna, you are able to boost your
    wireless antenna signal by building a ‘cantenna.
    There are, however, some limitations which Wi – Fi phone
    users can have to be conscious of.

    For computers using Windows Vista, go towards the Start button and
    click on Connect To inside left side of the Start menu.
    The aluminum foil picks in the wireless signal and reflects it, increasing the range.
    Extend wifi range The Internet connection is basically
    broadcast from wireless usb extender amazon many router out to your computer inside range in the wireless network zone.

  32. avofeng Than says:

    My task is how I can learn to make money from that by offering first.
    The good news is that positive thinking is a contagious phenomenon. Baoefeng o Speak inside a normal conversational voice, but display enthusiasm.

    But of course, it is not only up for the DJs and their talk implies that boosts
    the morale of individuals. Baofeng uhf radio Thirteen years later, Ali Brown has achieved
    many successes and be a millionaire from the age of 35 due to her efforts.
    While you could subscribe for their podcasts through i – Tunes or possibly a
    podcatcher, you will want to just have the source directly.

    You’re the only real individual that is ultimately responsible
    for the marriage. Best walkie talkie for hiking
    avofeng Than
    The design not merely allows 3 DS with respect with charging while playing the games,
    but will also let players convenient as long as you’re watching 3D videos.

  33. Many varieties of cameras are offered like USB dvr system,
    complete system,IP cameras. He may use outdoor or indoor home security camera, and luxuriate in their innovative
    features, i. security camera help
    cameras systems for home While one does want your dummy video security
    cameras to be seen, you tend not to want them to become placed
    too conspicuously.

    A businessman installs these cameras and keep an eye in the conduct with their employees.
    They present you with sufficient protection to produce you sleep soundly during the night
    or during manufactured.

Leave a Reply

Powered by Wordpress | Designed by I Design Blogs