Yale 1957 Class Project

Memo to: Participants in the class project

From: Jim Banner

Re: Status report on our class project -- April, 2008

This is a brief report on the comments that Robert Blocker, dean of the Yale School of Music (YSM), offered about the class's Music in the Schools Project at the recent annual class dinner in Manhattan. I send it with Tom Chittenden's and Malcolm Mitchell's concurrence, in part to show that I can convey happy news from time to time, in part as the observation of a thorough-going convert to an endeavor about which I was highly skeptical at the outset. I am now as enthusiastic about the project as the dean is.

As everyone who was present on April 10th will agree, Dean Blocker is a huge fan and supporter of the project. Were he not, the School of Music wouldn't have gone ahead with the project so far so fast--even with the support that so many of us have provided it and the active involvement in its realization provided by classmates like Malcolm Mitchell and Don Roberts.

As you may recall, the project commenced with the YSM's focus on the Lincoln-Bassett Elementary School in New Haven. In large part because of the YSM's commitment of staff support and its students to music programming and instruction in the school, Lincoln-Bassett's overall performance as a school has improved to the extent that it is no longer on the list of Connecticut schools considered to be failing. More important, its students have grown enthusiastic about music, and many of them now participate in its many aspects--learning it, playing it, singing it. In addition, such has been the success of the YSM's work at the Lincoln-Bassett School that it now feels confident to expand its work throughout the New Haven school system, whose leaders wholeheartedly back the project. In the fall, 20 city schools will have YSM students teaching in them. And because of the administrative demands of such an enlarged and complex program, the YSM has appointed an associate dean, Michael Yaffe, himself an experienced music educator, to manage the project and has added two paid YSM graduates, Olivia Malin and John Miller, to staff it. John is working in several New Haven schools and has recruited more than 60 School of Music students to volunteer as music instructors. Olivia is focused on Lincoln-Bassett and is working with staff members there to enhance and deepen its music program. All of this is to say that the class project is now built into the structure of the YSM.

Because the first bi-annual symposium of the Music in the Schools project was such a success last May, the YSM is already laying plans for its second symposium--in the spring of 2009. Again, 1957 classmates will be invited to nominate music educators from their home school districts to participate in and be honored at the symposium. Moreover, Michael Yaffee is now engaged in developing an enhanced YSM Web site, a part of which will be devoted to the Music in the Schools project. As part of that enhancement, he is working on the creation of a listserv and other mechanisms that will allow the project fellows (as participants in the symposia are termed) to stay in touch with each other and thus build a group of people throughout the country who will in effect be alumni of the project and associated over the long term with the YSM.

Finally, also with funds provided by the Class of 1957, the YSM will soon announce the appointment of the first Class of 1957 Visiting Professor of Music Education. While Dean Blocker did not name the chair's inaugural occupant, he did indicate that it was likely to be a noted music educator from China. In that way, the class project and Yale's larger effort to build links with universities in other nations, especially in China, will fit together.

All in all, I take this to be an exceedingly auspicious and fast-running start to a project that has grown out of a commitment that the class made to the YSM some years ago. I believe that we should all take much satisfaction in what we have wrought.

Comments on any of the above should be sent to Jim at jbanner@aya.yale.edu

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