Essay Advancing the Preparation of Professional Musicians through Systematic Education for Community Engagement

David E. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


American career musicians frequently fault managers for public apathy when local arts institutions face fiscal crises. Yet, according to recent studies, positive symbiosis between arts organizations and their communities is more a fit notion of the intrinsic values of the arts than of managers' advocacy for economic impact and arts philanthropy. Such an assertion calls into question an historic assumption among musicians that staged performance is the extent of their relationship with the public. Instead, it suggests that musicians may need to be more proactive in building and sustaining audiences for their work. Moving from a passive to an active stance, which is characterized by musicians who not only accept responsibility for engaging the public but who also embrace the task of creative interaction with the community, challenges many existing practices in tertiary music schools. This paper presents an argument and a model for integrating knowledge and skills for community engagement into the professional preparation of performers and composers. In contrast to elective studies or short-term community service projects, training and guided internships can encourage lifelong professional dispositions and capacities to underlie sustained support for classical music. The paper provides principles for integrating related pedagogy and practice into the curriculum without sacrificing artistic rigor. Based on work being done in the Center for Educational Partnerships in Music at Georgia State University, the paper uses data from student interviews to derive emergent themes in the education of university music majors for community engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-90
Number of pages12
JournalBulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education
Issue number170
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

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