Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
May 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Music students, faculty harmonize on changes

In response to a student petition calling for diversification of the music major, the department has scheduled a forum on Nov. 6 between faculty and students and is arranging an online forum for discussion about the music department.

The initial response to the petition, handed in to Department Chair Larry Polansky on Oct. 2, took the form of a recent faculty meeting at which the decision to hold the forum was made.

According to Professor Jon Appleton, a member of the Dartmouth faculty for over 30 years, the music department has made the transition from a history-based department to a largely composition- and performance-based department over time. This sort of petition, he said, has been forthcoming "for years," and he said that turning in the petition was "a great idea."

Many of the proponents of the petition cited the creation of separate majors for studio art and art history, a split that occurred in the mid-1980s, according to Art History Professor Jim Jordan.

"The problem is that people who are performers don't have enough time to focus on performing, composers don't have enough time to focus on composing, and musicologists don't have enough time to focus on what they want to do because the requirements are so extensive," Appleton said.

Most professors say they look forward to discussing the petition and the music department with students.

"Everyone is happy to see a petition like that -- it means the students care," Music Professor Kui Dong said. "Now we want to let the students know our opinions, and so that's what the meeting is for."

Some students see the depart-ment's response as a good first step toward change within the department.

"The department's not just waving off their students," music student Jordan Boss '04 said. "They're just doing what they have to in order to issue a formal opinion on the matter."

Nonetheless, change in the music department is not going to come overnight. The initial petition, signed by six music majors, called for creating separate majors within the department for history, composition and revising the music major. These are big changes for such a small department.

"There's a lot of administrative headache in reorganizing a whole department for the benefit of 10 or 12 students and about as many professors," music major Daniel Colvard '04 said. "We just need to remember that this isn't a conservatory -- we need to learn other things besides music."

According to Appleton, the proposed changes may also face opposition from some faculty members.

"Unfortunately, today the faculty at colleges tend to resist change," Appleton said. "I think that a lot of faculty think they know what should be done and don't care much what students think. That's a sad thing."