Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More News about Women and Doctorates

This article is from 2010, but we just discovered it (Thanks, HK!) and felt it deserved an extra highlight (even though it's not actually news anymore I suppose).

There has been much discussion on this blog (see related articles here) about gender in the composition world (and outside of it), including why fewer women end up with tenure track jobs or don't advance as often or as quickly as men. The findings in the article don't surprise me at all, but I have mixed feelings about it- I think it's important research that needs to be out there and is a very real concern for many women (and I'm surprised that this is the first time the phenomenon has been formally studied). However, I worry that it could potentially have a negative effect as well, by drawing attention to only one aspect of the reason women seem to land fewer tenure track jobs. I think many people assume that the only reason women don't advance is because they drop out of tenure track to pursue the "mommy track," as I've heard it scathingly referred to, which is not only incredibly insulting but ignores the fact that women also drop out for reasons such as discrimination, harassment, and lack of support from colleagues and/or administration (and the article does briefly touch on these factors as well, which I was glad to see). Either way, it seems like an important contribution to the field and I hope that this and future studies might eventually effect some change in the way academia works.

Posted by Sarah

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Conquering Writer's Block

Whenever I start a new phase of my life I often have some trouble relaxing, which invariably leads to an irksome (yes, I just used “irksome” in this blog post) spat of writer’s block. Good news…I’ve conquered it at the moment! But it got me thinking about writing and all the little tricks we can develop to get ourselves out of these ruts.

If I wasn’t a composer or such a weirdo nerd, I probably would think these were entirely ridiculous, but I kind of love Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies and I highly recommend them to anybody who is looking for some new angles for thinking about their musical sketching. I had an interesting discussion with my teacher recently about how the pressure of creating the “piece” itself can be completely stifling sometimes. He talked about how we can try to trick ourselves into not composing a piece and just working on sketches, exercises, compositional “games,” or any other kind of project that will allow us to separate our creative juices from the worry of performance, overall aesthetic, and all kinds of other potentially unhelpful external concerns and static.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Artist's Career Path

Recently I was looking at the staff profiles for a nonprofit arts organization, and it should not surprise anyone that everyone on the staff was also an artist. What got me thinking, though, was one of the questions that each staff member answered on their profiles: “If you weren’t working here, what would you be doing?” Almost everyone answered with some sort of art career (running an art gallery, being a professional actor, singing, etc.). Even though I know I’m not really one to talk, I wanted to ask these people, if that artistic pursuit is really your passion, why aren’t you out there pursuing it? Not in a judgmental way-- just because I’m curious.

To be an artist or an arts administrator, that is the question. I suppose it’s not strange at all that these people wanted to be artists- after all, who goes into arts administration, if not people who care about the arts? Clearly these are not high-paying jobs, and like being an artist, you only work in the nonprofit sector if you love it or feel very strongly about a particular cause. The big difference is that unlike being an artist (probably), you will get paid every other week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Clara Schumann!

I know that we're a new music blog, but Sarah and I both want to recognize Clara Schumann (b. September 13, 1819; d. May 20, 1896) on her birthday today. She is someone who is often pigeonholed as a performer and marginalized as a composer. Her music stands up well to the other music being written at the time by her more well-known male peers, but history as it is written and remembered tends to warp our sense of who wrote "good" music and thus affects what music becomes canonized. Thankfully, there are performers these days who perform and study her music, but I still strongly feel that she and other female composers (such as Fanny Mendelssohn, Alma Mahler, Amy Beach, and countless others) are painfully under-programmed and relatively unappreciated.

So let's take a moment today to remember and celebrate Clara Schumann as an important and skilled composer.