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Discussion Starter #1
Just found this website through Facebook: http://www.friendsofnujazz.com/.

It looks like the jazz department at Northwestern is no more and a Bachelor of Jazz Studies will no longer be offered. The dean has stated that there was an exhaustive two-year search to find a new jazz department head that yielded no suitable candidates. I find this hard to believe considering Northwestern has an outstanding music reputation. Well, at least the classical sax department is still going strong with Mr. Hemke---at least until he retires.

Thoughts?
 

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I don't think they looked hard enough. Either that or their expectations were too high.
 

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That's the canned answer, but I wonder if there's another hidden explanation. The last major jazz revival was in the 1980s with the Marsalis Brothers, etc. The audience for straight-ahead jazz continues to shrink every year, and perhaps NW is too snooty to continue training future Kenny G's.
 

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They canned the Masters degree a few years ago. At least they're letting the current jazz majors to finish out their degrees.
 

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Swingtone said:
That's the canned answer, but I wonder if there's another hidden explanation. The last major jazz revival was in the 1980s with the Marsalis Brothers, etc. The audience for straight-ahead jazz continues to shrink every year, and perhaps NW is too snooty to continue training future Kenny G's.
So what about the classical musicians they train? When was the last classical revival?
 

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Agent27 said:
So what about the classical musicians they train? When was the last classical revival?
That's what classical is: music that doesn't need a revival to be "good enough". o_O
 

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If they were looking for an outstanding performer and teaching, there would be a bottomless supply of candidates. But they probably also required someone with "academic credentials" - a Ph.D., publications, and so forth. That might have been more problematic. Or their stated reason might very well be a smokescreen.
 

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They probably want all us dirty jazzers to stop getting grime and spit all over their ivory tower.
 

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chitownjazz said:
But they probably also required someone with "academic credentials" - a Ph.D., publications, and so forth. That might have been more problematic. Or their stated reason might very well be a smokescreen.
My gut reaction also, cj. Many of the people who should be musically qualified to take such a position have spent their most fruitful years making the music not chasing academic degrees. Both can be done of course, but the playing field would be considerably smaller. Just consider what a program they could have with Maria Schneider as chairman! But she doesn't have a doctorate. Which brings me to the next point.

Certainly this is, in the long run, a smoke screen to justify doing what was wanted all along. I cannnot speak for NW, I don't know the school, but I do know classical music-academics and collegiate environments and there is no greater back-biting, cat calling, and behind-the-back subversion as can found on campuses among some faculty.

Again, I have no knowledge of the real situation so these are general comments, but many probably don't know that the prestigious, influence and world-renowned program at UNT had struggled for many years under the conditions I mentioned above. Not only that, but you had a dean who was practically outright jealous and hostile of the program. At a time when NTSU was the only university in the world that gave a jazz-oriented, accredited degree, was winning so many jazz festival competitions that they were barred from competing, rather were invited as special guests, had Billy Harper and Lou Marini sitting in the sax section - the program was entirely self-sustaining. :yikes!: Maybe the jazz program at NW has had similar problems.

Of course times have changed, but some things, well, they never change. All my best to NW and I hope there's still room to negotiate.
 

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It is entirely possible that a university seeks someone with a certain academic record or credentials and that they wouldn't bow to reality and take on someone real good.... but without P.H. or something like that.

On the other hand, it is very well possible that there's a shrinking interest in Jazz education reflecting pretty much what the shrinking demand for jazz (recorded and live music) among young people is.

The laws of Supply and Demand regulate American academic choices more than in Europe and even though a university can afford to loose money on a certain courses and keep them up for the prestige deriving by these, there's a limit to what some institution would consider acceptable in terms of losses.
 

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I think, though, that one of the problems cited was the lack of qualified applicants to sustain enrollment. But the audition criteria seems controversial, if not rigged altogether, against qualified jazz program applicants.
 

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Good: another interesting thread to keep me from doing what i should be doing! I wonder if the "qualified candidates" aspect has anything to do with how departments are funded? In the uk funding depends partly on the extent to which academic staff have published articles and books in the past (I believe, i'm not an expert!). Thus the cliche "publish or perish". This view of academic "productivity" - nonsensical though it is, at least in relation to the arts - results in an in-built prejudice against employing people from outside a very narrow academic circle when it comes to university teaching jobs. In my opinion!
 

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gary said:
My gut reaction also, cj. Many of the people who should be musically qualified to take such a position have spent their most fruitful years making the music not chasing academic degrees. Both can be done of course, but the playing field would be considerably smaller. Just consider what a program they could have with Maria Schneider as chairman! But she doesn't have a doctorate. Which brings me to the next point. ...
Case in point: Jackie McLean at the Hartt School of Music of the University of Hartford. I believe his academic career consisted of one year at what was then North Carolina A & T. Yet Hartt hired him as a professor and then dean for years and now has the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz. Other schools that have gone this route: University of Massachusetts at Amherst (Max Roach, Archie Shepp), Bennington College in Vermont (Milford Graves), Wesleyan University in Connecticut (Anthony Braxton), and I'm sure a number of others.
 

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gary said:
But the audition criteria seems controversial, if not rigged altogether, against qualified jazz program applicants.
This is very true. It may or may not be done intentionally, but when I auditioned at NU three years ago I had to not only prepare an entire classical audition for Fred Hemke (intimidating!), but also prepare several jazz standards in varying styles for the (then) jazz faculty to hear. I even asked in my audition with Mr. Hemke if my admission hinged on how well I stacked up to other auditioning "strictly classical" saxophonists (despite auditioning for the jazz program) and he told me straight-up that he "Doesn't like the idea and many don't, but that's how it's done."

So, rigged or just very poorly thought through it's no wonder that the jazz department is small when you're only accepting people that are not only outstanding at jazz but also capable of being accepted as a classical major as well!

In regard to finding a qualified department head: Even if they were looking for educators that are published and possess a P.h.D. I still find it hard to believe that there were no suitable applicants. I'm sure that if they tried hard enough, NU could entice a well-known jazz educator away from their current school and offer them the head of the department chair. Didn't Indiana University do that with an outstanding violinist that formerly taught at Curtis??
 

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archie shepp is not attached to the music faculty at UMASS but rather the black studies program and I believe he does have a legitmate PHD.
 

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mike_s said:
archie shepp is not attached to the music faculty at UMASS but rather the black studies program and I believe he does have a legitmate PHD.
Come to think of it, that might be the case at other schools I listed too - that jazz musicians are hired into Black Studies programs.

I think Max Roach used to teach at UMass also, and I don't recall him having an advanced degree, unless you consider the University of Charlie Parker.
 

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chitownjazz said:
But they probably also required someone with "academic credentials" - a Ph.D., publications, and so forth.
There was a jazz pianist getting his Master's at the same time I was getting my Bachelor's. He was an older guy (late 30's/early 40's) and his goal was to get a faculty position somewhere (not necessarily in jazz but in piano/theory/composition/anything). He told me that virtually ALL schools want a Doctorate now. Podunk Community College in the middle of nowhere wants you to have a PhD. He did end up finding a position at a private religious college.

Butch Miles has been the drummer for the Count Basie Orchestra for about the last 30 years. He was the last drummer in the band before Basie died. He was retiring to Austin and wanted to come on as adjunct faculty at my alma mater. The first question asked by the administration was "Where's his Masters and Doctorate?" He only has a Bachelors. But he's been a working musician his whole life. He has a Doctorate in the University of Life. They did end up caving in to logic and hired him.

gary said:
I think, though, that one of the problems cited was the lack of qualified applicants to sustain enrollment. But the audition criteria seems controversial, if not rigged altogether, against qualified jazz program applicants.
As I understand it, admission was determined by the classical audition. The jazz faculty could make suggestions but had no say. If the best jazzer came in but his classical audition was mediocre, he was rejected.
 

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Hmm Interesting:

Toni-Marie Montgomery
School of Music Dean and Professor, Piano
DMA, University of Michigan

Dean since July 1, 2003; previously was dean of the University of Kansas School of Fine Arts; director of the School of Music at Arizona State University; assistant dean for academic programs of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut at Storrs; and artistic director and assistant director of the School of Music at Western Michigan University.

Has studied at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France; the Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; and the Harvard Management Development Program at Harvard University.

An accomplished concert pianist who has performed as soloist and as a chamber musician throughout the U.S., Europe and Latin America. In 1988 was (my Bold) founding member of the Black Music Repertory Ensemble of Chicago's Columbia College.

Doctoral and masters degrees from Michigan in piano chamber music and accompanying; bachelor of music, magna cum laude, in piano performance from Philadelphia College of Performing Arts.

(She looks a little like Opra BTW.)
 
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