NYU pauses admissions in music ed, surprising students

Students were shocked last month when New York University announced it was suspending admission to its undergraduate music education program.

They weren’t worried about whether they would be able to graduate yet. In an email sent Nov. 1, Marilyn Nongken, who chairs the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professionals, which includes music education, said the suspension will affect the ability of current students to complete their studies. It states that there is no

According to Nonken’s memo, the suspension will allow the undergraduate curriculum to be reworked, but students already find the curriculum challenging and rewarding. I changed the curriculum.

“I am currently in the third grade and have been in the program for three years, and this year all the curriculum is connecting very well between classes,” said one current music education student who wished to remain anonymous. said Inside higher education.

Most of all, the students were concerned about their own growth as music educators. The department relies on a mentorship model, where older students mentor younger students in bands, choirs, and orchestras to develop the skills to lead large ensembles.

With no next class, I wondered who they would coach.

A student who speaks anonymously Inside higher education This year’s second grade class (next year’s third grade) consists of just six students. Since her second year class traditionally goes to Prague in the spring semester to study abroad, her first year will not come next year, so in the spring of 2024 there will only be five of her classmates in each third year. They usually supervise about 20 students, the students said.

The students wrote to MPAP administrators asking them to reverse the decision. They outlined their concerns about the lack of transparency and communication with the program’s students and part-time faculty.

“We are not content to be consultants and observers of the changes that affect us,” read a letter signed by the majority of current music education students. We believe that a committee that works with us students to bring our voices directly into the music education program will best support it.We will work together to create a stellar program. We are prepared to share the goal of ensuring that the

Administrators met with students via Zoom on November 17 to answer questions and allay concerns, but attendees said the meeting only raised additional concerns.

“[I]I was very annoyed when the administrator gave me a long, insubstantial answer,” Samuel Wu, a junior music education major, said in an email. Inside higher education.

student worries

During the November 17th meeting, of which Inside higher education After obtaining the recording, Nongken tried to assure the students that the department would come up with “creative” solutions to the problem of how to practice ensemble conducting without underclassmen.

“If there is no next class, what can we do instead? We are creative people and innovative thinkers,” she said. “There are multiple ways to do things.” I am definitely interested in finding solutions to what is seen as a problem in this transitional period.”

According to Wu, administrators have mentioned the possibility of allowing music education students to conduct groups of NYU students studying instrumental playing. remove the implied element from the equation. This allows conductors-in-training to revise developing techniques just as they would for elementary, middle school, or high school instrumentalists. Conducting an orchestra of her NYU performance students seasoned teaches her a very different set of skills.

“Personally, the mentor model has helped me as a future educator,” Wu wrote. “Being able to work alongside beginner-level peers in secondary and tertiary instruments gives me first-hand experience of what ensemble troubleshooting and modification is like.”

At the Nov. 17 meeting, students also repeatedly asked why they thought NYU needed to change what they considered a particularly strong and innovative program.A student who wished to remain anonymous said Inside higher education The program goes beyond classical music to include more contemporary courses in pop music, music technology, and jazz theory.

Nongken said at the meeting that the department had not yet decided what changes to make and those decisions would be part of the curriculum redevelopment process. as a lack of resources. The music education program is run by her two full-time faculty members, down from her four just a few years ago, according to one of her seniors on the call, and a dedicated advisor to not here.

In a statement emailed to Inside higher education Via an NYU spokesperson, Nonken spoke about changes in the field of music education that helped force MPAP to rethink its program.

“NYU established the first educational school in the United States. We believe music and the arts are essential to primary and secondary education and want to be in the business of training music teachers,” she said. writes, “However, music teaching and learning today often takes place outside the classroom, in cultural institutions, community centers and libraries, to name a few. Originally focused on training teachers in New York City schools, we want to expand our mission to: reflect the changing disciplines, and teach music technology, music therapy, arts management, and more. It gives students the ability to explore relevant areas of the program.This approach also leverages the expertise of our talented faculty in other programs.”

As to why the program had to suspend enrollment to implement these changes, Nongken said at the meeting that it would be better to take a break and restart the new curriculum than to phase in these changes. She also noted that other NYU programs are taking similar steps in reworking their curricula.

No input from assistant

Nonken told students at the conference that he considered the perspectives of full-time faculty members within the MPAP, including professors from various disciplines. Music education courses, however, are mostly taught by full-time teachers. The only full-time faculty member in music education is Alex Ruthman, who has worked primarily at New York University’s Shanghai campus for the past few years and doesn’t know most of the current music education students on the Washington Square campus. Jason Thompson is the program’s interim director, busy reshaping the master’s program curriculum. (Enrollment into that program has been suspended since Spring 2021.)

Both men were present in discussions about the suspension of admissions, Nongken said, but Thompson claims he was unaware of the decision until the day before the student was notified. Neither Thompson nor Ruthman responded. rice field Inside higher educationrequest for comment.

None of the 14 part-time staff members of the music education program were consulted. In fact, they didn’t know about the admission suspension until the students were notified.

At the November 17 meeting, Nonken said the assistants would not be involved in rewriting the curriculum in a formal capacity, but would act as informal consultants.

Students questioned why part-time staff who work with students on a daily basis were not included in key decisions about the program. Nonken says their contract prohibits the university from providing free services, such as joining a working group to develop a new curriculum.

Part-time staff themselves have also criticized the government’s lack of transparency and expressed concern about how the suspension of admissions will affect their work. It is unclear whether all 10 adjunct professors will be required.

“It is clear to me [NYU administrators] It’s not what’s good for the people, what’s good for the students, what’s good for the faculty, but it’s really the business mindset here to make money,” he said. Inside higher education“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but there’s already a sense that people are really down.”


When asked at the Nov. 17 meeting whether the decision to suspend enrollment could be overturned, Nonken said a decisive “no.” This decision had already been made and endorsed by his NYU upper management, including Steinhardt Dean Jack H. Knott and Provost Georgina Dopico. The program’s website has a banner declaring, “To best meet the needs of our students, we have decided to suspend enrollment for the Bachelor of Music in Music Education, All Grades: Initial Certification.” It is published.

A curriculum restructuring process is underway, and a working group of Nonken, Thompson, Ruthmann, and other full-time faculty members from MPAP programs is currently developing preliminary ideas for the reimagined program. December. Currently, students and adjunct professors do not formally participate in groups.

It is undecided when the program will resume.

“We want to move this quickly. It depends on a lot of things,” Nongken said at the meeting, including what level of approval the proposed changes would require. is to take this time to really evaluate the changes we can make to create a better program.”

She emphasized that the program is changing – it’s not going away.

“We have not abandoned the program,” Nongken wrote in her statement. “Our students and faculty are passionate about it, and we are committed to improving it.” .”

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