<span class="vcard">Wendelin Bitzan</span>
Wendelin Bitzan

More Stimuli for Rethinking Music Education

I’m a bit late in sharing the following two articles. However, I don’t want to neglect them as both are noteworthy for voicing remarkable positions in the field of professional music education, and deserve appreciation and further discussion even with some weeks of delay.

In April 2021, composer Fabien Lévy‘s passionate plea for diversity in repertoire and ways of approaching music appeared as a nmz longread. The piece should be considered more than a theoretical observation or a polemic reckoning with the fetish-like traits of classical music tradition, and be seen as a possible model for designing future curricula and study programmes.
In May 2021, an initiative of eighteen ASta student representations at German music universities issued an open letter that deals with a number of deficiencies in the current system of higher education in music, particularly in times of dealing with a pandemic. All of their points are worth considering, especially for being the first substantial claim of engaged student committees unwilling to bear with the status quo any longer.

Rethinking Music Universities

I would like to direct your attention towards the newly established Initiative for a New Music University that introduces a comprehensive alternative conception for the system of professional music education in Germany. By tradition, music universities are hierarchical organisations with solid power structures, tending to preserve routines such as master-student dependency, cult of genius, and pressure to perform. The new initiative aims at replacing these structures with an open, holistic, and consensual environment of learning and teaching. Thus, the creative and innovative potential of music education is rethought under the terms of equality and maturity of all persons involved. Even though the conception seems not to include some important aspects of administration and content so far (such as the abandonment of traditional repertoire limitations), the initiative and its creators, Hans-Christian Hauser, Sebastian Haas, and Hayo Keckeis, deserve the highest possible attention and appreciation—to which wish to contribute with the present post.

Statement on Adjunct Lectureships

I wrote another statement on the employment practice of German music universities, with special regard to the field of music theory and aural skills where institutions significantly rely on freelance teaching staff. After describing the status quo, I introduce and substantiate two central desiderata: to create more permanent positions, and to lower the rate of adjunct teaching in the abovementioned subjects to a maximum of 10 percent. After that, I outline a scenario of how adjunct lectureships can be applied as a way of early-career faculty development and as a productive stage of postgraduate academic occupation. Looking forward to your thoughts and objective discussions!

Adjunct lectureships in music theory: Read my statement (in German)

GMTH Freelancer Memorandum

The Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie (GMTH) has published a memorandum in the interest of adjunct teaching staff in music theory, which amounts to a considerable part of its members at German music universities. The most important desiderata are an increase of permanent positions and the reduction of classes taught by freelancers to a maximum of 20 percent. I was involved as a co-author in this paper, and more statements are to be issued soon.

A Stunning New Campus

After months of absence from my workplace, I was excited to explore the possibilities of the new university campus at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf, where my department has found its new home. Ambience and interior design go very well with the purpose of the recently completed building, which also provides large new spaces for the library and plenty of rehearsal rooms. It’s just a pity that face-to-face teaching is still not possible, and I look forward to meeting my students again in this environment. For now, I turned one of the seminar rooms into a digital workspace from where I delivered my online classes. Here is what it looked like—the technical equipment is quite satisfying, and I can well imagine to use a similar setup for hybrid classes, if needed in the near future.