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Music Department Demonstrates Leadership

Students, Faculty Participate in CMS and ATMI Joint Conference

By John Morgan Bush

As UMass Lowell continues to demonstrate leadership and growth in higher education and research, the UMass Lowell Music Department is similarly engaged in contributing to that momentum by presenting world-class and globally conscientious research to promote our students, our programs and our faculty.

This week, at the joint conference of the College Music Society (CMS) and the Association for Technology in Music Instruction (ATMI), students and faculty from the UMass Lowell Music Department are actively involved in myriad ways from performing in ensembles, presenting workshops and lectures, researching topics and even organizing the joint conference itself. Since both conferences are being held in our own backyard of Cambridge, UMass Lowell was presented with the perfect opportunity to highlight the innovative programs, new curriculum models and technology based instruction we employ in the Music Department.  

Music Education faculty member Dr. Gena R. Greher and former faculty member Dr. Alex Ruthmann were critical to UMass Lowell’s involvement in the joint conference. Both professors hold positions on the ATMI Executive Committee serving as vice-president and president respectively.  Through their contributions, UMass Lowell is gaining steady praise and recognition as an emerging leader in the fields of music education and music technology in education. Their leadership at the 2013 CMS and ATMI joint conference showcases UMass Lowell’s ability to equip students with real tools, which then enable them to build successful careers in music education and the music industry as a whole.

Through her service as the ATMI conference program chair and also by serving on the CMS program committee Dr. Gena Greher plays an integral role in the shaping of the joint conferences. To this end, she is chairing a workshop session titled “Creating Interactive Course Materials” which will include presentations on the use of eBooks and iBooks in the classroom as well as a presentation for strategies to help educators develop authentic and interactive course materials for the music classroom.  Dr. Greher was also invited to present  a pre-conference workshop, “Designing Music Technology as a Window into Musical Thinking,” and will also a be a guest in the panel discussion, “Tech Divas and Girl Geeks: Supporting the Rising Generation of Women in Music and Technology.” 

Former UMass Lowell faculty member, now serving on the faculty of NYU Steinhardt, Ruthmann will also participate in the joint conference as he chairs the workshop, “Informal & Intuitive Learning Through Technology.” This session focuses on collaborative music learning that employs the use of technology in music. This session will also include a presentation on educational uses of Noteflight music notation software by UMass Lowell graduate student Savannah Marshall. Marshall will also present a paper at the conference titled, “Innovative Music Making: Using iPads in the Music Classroom.”

As one might suspect, there will be much music making at the CMS and ATMI joint conference as well—and a good deal of it will be made by UMass Lowell students and faculty.  Visiting Professor in Sound Recording Technology Mike Testa is chairing a seminar about music technology and it’s practical applications for performance. He will also presenting a discussion titled “UMass Lowell’s Contemporary Electronic Ensemble—Ideas and Pedological Considerations when Starting a Student Electronic Ensemble” He is also performing in, an ensemble that includes faculty members of Salem State University. 

In addition to our Contemporary Electronic Ensemble, the UMass Lowell World Music Ensemble, Vong Pleng Khmer, led by Dr. Alan Williams will perform in the conference’s Lunchtime Concert Series and offer attendees a spectacular insight into the global and diverse approach we offer to music beyond traditional Western culture.  UMass Lowell faculty member Ramon Castillo will also present a performance demonstration of the “Bleep Blop Electro-Acoustic Ensemble.”  Adding to this mix of performances, the Riverhawk Party Band led by UMass Lowell student Seth Bailin will provide much music and revelry.

A major event in the joint conference will take place this Friday, Nov. 1 when UMass Lowell music faculty member Dr. Timothy Crain moderates a panel discussion titled “(Re)Imagining Core Music Curriculum for the Twenty-First Century Musician.” This discussion will include a full panel from the UMass Lowell Music Department including Ramon Castillo, Williams and Ruthmann. These faculty members are integral to the development and creation of the brand new Musicianship and Analysis curriculum. We adapted this new curriculum to teach our students core concepts in music such as music theory, analysis, ear training and composition. The discussion will explore how the UMass Lowell Musicianship and Analysis model teaches students the requisite skills necessary for comprehensive understanding of the musical language while incorporating simulations, examples and exercises that focus on developing all aspects of the “Work Ready, World Ready, Life Ready” student.  Also, faculty member Paula Telesco will share her research in a session titled, “Rhythm Syllable Rapprochement: Reconciling Rhythm Syllable Systems.”

The atmosphere of the UMass Lowell Music Department is frenetic at this time of year. We are researching new approaches to music performance, music learning and the music industry while simultaneously piloting and evaluating our newest programs. Events such as the 2013 CMS and ATMI joint conference are a wonderful forum for our faculty and students to highlight their achievements. At this conference, we will demonstrate to the music community that we are leaders in our field. By showcasing our work in this way, we challenge others to understand and participate in our mission to redefine how music learning can be relevant to our everyday lives and within our culture at large.