Our Commitment to Creating a Welcoming and Inclusive School of Music

Dear Friends of Music at Kent State,

I am excited to welcome you to this new and unprecedented year at the Glauser School. As we enter into the strange new world that has caused us to take account of our priorities, I would like to invite you to come along on a new journey, a trip into new and uncharted waters.

To begin, I would like you to think about how music has affected your own life. I am sure that you have experienced those inexplicable moments of emotion when you hear the particular brand of music that touches you at the core. Each of you will have had different experiences that have led you to love great music. For some, it will be a jazz standard by Duke Ellington, a chant by Hildegard von Bingen, a song of the civil rights movement, a late string quartet by Beethoven, a video by Jay-Z, an aria by Puccini, or any of a limitless number of excellent musical masterpieces. We are truly fortunate to have such a wealth of music to choose from, but as we try to navigate the exploration of the musical landscape, it is vital that we do it with the realization that the amount of music available to us is so extraordinarily vast that any study will necessarily both include and exclude excellent choices. For most of you who read the list above, you have likely thought it was wrong for me to not include YOUR favorite composer. For example, how could Stravinsky be missing? How about Diana Ross? How about...? That list is necessarily endless.

Here at the Glauser School of Music, we have been busy over the past year trying to refocus our attention to find ways to be more inclusive in terms of the curriculum, the music studied, and the interactions with the surrounding community. We have been asking ourselves how to deepen our understanding of all music while engaging the widest possible audience. How can we bring in those who feel the love of music deep down inside, but who are reluctant to come to a place that can seem like it resembles an ivory tower just a little bit too much for comfort?

To help us along our way, I am thrilled to announce that the newly formed School of Music Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force will be chaired by two champions of this cause, Professors Kishna Fowler and Janine Tiffe. Along with their colleagues, they will spearhead a wide range of activities geared at expanding the horizons of our current students, diversifying the population of future Flashes, and deepening the level of engagement with those in the community who have an interest in the wonderful world of music. Their work in the current year will be primarily focused on a series of four events designed to bring attention to issues that help us all to broaden our understanding of the intersection of musical and personal experiences. The first virtual event will take place on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 12 p.m. EST and can be viewed online.

This year, the School of Music has decided to adopt the theme of 401 Years and Counting to help plant seeds of investigation into our minds. The introduction of African slaves to the American continent 401 years ago is a shameful past, but as a nation we need to acknowledge this and find ways to commemorate and celebrate our African American roots. To that end, the school has undertaken a wide spectrum of activities such as repertoire exploration, the study of sociological implications of music by African Americans, and concerts that bring to light topics and music that may seem unfamiliar and at times, uncomfortable. It is essential that we embrace the entirety of our musical heritage, and the intent is that this year's theme will open up dialogues that will affect long-term change by encouraging music lovers to weave these topics into a new and colorful fabric of musical exploration.

I think we can all agree that having Music in our lives provides a richer society for everyone. I look forward to seeing you at our events and to hearing your thoughts on how we can work together to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community here at the Glauser School of Music.

Yours in Music,
Kent McWilliams, D.M.A.
Professor and Director
Glauser School of Music

POSTED: Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 3:48pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 26, 2020 - 4:14pm
Andrew Paa | apaa@kent.edu