Support for Freelance Teachers

Some news from two occupational groups in musicianship with whom I wish to express my solidarity and support. Please share and re-post if you feel the same.

(1) The Conference of Adjunct Lecturers at German Music Universities (BKLM) and the OrchesterlanD initiative have started a joint campaign, aiming at a significant improvement of working conditions for freelance academic teaching staff in music. The claim is to refrain from assigning fixed-term lectureships via administrative measures—which is current common practice—and turn these into private-law contracts instead. See also the BKLM statement on adjuncts’ dignity and work ethic.

(2) The Berlin Senate has agreed on a 40-percent increase of fees for freelance teachers at municipal music schools. Yet it seems as if the cultural administration would fail to provide the required assets in next year’s budget. There is an initiative of Die Berliner Musikschullehrer and the State Representation of Music School Teachers to protest against this incomprehensible neglect. Much support is needed.

Paradigm Shift at DTKV Berlin

Yesterday’s general assembly of Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband Berlin was a turbulent and partly chaotic session of four hours. In a strenuous procedure, most of the former chairpersons have resigned or were voted out of office, and a new directory board has been elected. Many changes in the ethics and self-conception of the professional body are to be expected, and future work will be essentially different from how it used to be. On another note, the assembly vindicated one of our most devoted members who had faced an illegitimate expellation threat. More details to follow as soon as the new board has constituted itself.

Thoughts on Academic Publishing

As a person involved in both artistic and scientific activity, I don’t sense a pressure to publish my writings to such an extent as somebody working in the humanities or the natural sciences. Yet I do feel the need to regularly contribute to the output of my academic environment by writing for journals, conference proceedings, and edited volumes in my fields of interest, and thus enhance my ›emerging scholar portfolio‹. In doing so, it appears to me that the best way to go public is full open access under a Creative Commons license, without any fees or restrictions posed to potential readers—and the more so since my occupation is a rather marginal discipline, measured by its overall relevance in society. Accessibility means a lot more to me than monetisation. In other words: I don’t see any point in commercial publishing in the current state of academic life.

Obviously, some partners in publishing do not share this view. While there are many convincing examples for gold and green open-access strategies throughout European and North-American academia, I have recently faced problems when I tried to self-archive or reuse my work after a period of closed access or conventional printed publication. For instance, some journals would not permit green open access of articles after an embargo period, or even charge the author for publishing in repositories other than his or her personal website. Despite platforms such as Academia.edu or ResearchGate enable researchers to share their work on a non-commercial basis, they are played off and dismissed for their alleged profit-oriented approach by some publishers who do not seem to have developed sustainable open-access policies themselves. At any rate, a topical handling of copyright issues and rights of use would demand for an attitude more sensitive towards authors’ interests. To cut a long story short: I believe that, if I am neither required to pay for publication nor do I get paid for it, my articles should be accessible to anybody free of charges. I will aim to live up to this principle from now on.

The Musical Mysteries of Ukraine

The spirit of Emil Gilels hovers over the Small Hall of the Odessa Academy of Music, so much I know for sure. And, by the way, this institution seems to be the one and only conservatory in Europe which is named after a woman—coloratura soprano Antonina Nezhdanova, the dedicatee of Rachmaninov‘s Vocalise. Yet other questions remain unanswered during my trip to Ukraine: Why were Horowitz and Richter so reluctant to perform Medtner, who toured the country in 1927? Where exactly was Horowitz born? And how on earth could the Soviet authorities issue him a passport with his father’s name misstated as ›Semenovich‹ instead of ›Samuilovich‹? Maybe somebody will shed light on these obscurities one day through further research. Off to beautiful Lviv now where I will spend one more day before returning to everyday business: Winter term at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf requires my well-prepared presence.