A Creative Partnership: The Joint Music Program
February 11, 2014
The intimacy of a conservatory, but big school benefits. That’s what CIM offers our students thanks to a special partnership with neighbor Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). Known as a leader in engineering, medicine and law, CWRU is also one of the top schools for Musicology in the world. For nearly half a century, CIM and CWRU have used their educational partnership, the Joint Music Program (JMP), to share their collective resources, focusing on the strengths of each institution.
“EVERY CIM student participates in the Joint Music Program,” said Conservatory Dean Adrian Daly. “And every music student at CWRU also participates. We strive to make the integration as seamless as possible.”
So seamless in fact, that many students and faculty don’t even realize the partnership has a formal name, or that it’s such a special relationship for both schools.
“JMP is one of the biggest reasons I came to CWRU from Nevada,” said CWRU Music Department Chair David Ake. “Of all the partnerships CWRU has with business, hospitals and cultural institutions, our relationship with CIM is our most treasured.”
Ake, who joined CWRU’s administration in July, works with Daly and the 8 to 10 people on the JMP Committee, discussing everything from curriculum and opportunity building to the financial aspects and logistics of keeping the long-running partnership in place.
“I’m very invested in making this program even better, and making it creative,” he explained. “As the schools grow and times change, we have to continue growing the program to meet the new needs of our students.”
Major In More Than Music
Here’s how it works. In addition to their music lessons, CWRU students take their performance, chamber music, theory and eurhythmics classes at CIM. CIM undergraduate students take their general education courses, in addition to offerings in music history and languages (for voice students) at CWRU. Many CIM students pursue a minor at CWRU. Some even commit to the dual degree, receiving diplomas for both a bachelor’s in music from CIM and a Bachelor of Science or Art from CWRU.
“My initial reaction was that it would be difficult, essentially attending two schools,” admitted Maggie Morrison, a CIM master’s student. “But I quickly realized it’s not divided at all.” CIM sits geographically adjacent to CWRU within University Circle. Morrison, who studies piano performance with Antonio Pompa-Baldi, also earned her undergraduate degree from CIM. She’s taken full advantage of the opportunities the JMP has provided during her six years in Cleveland.
“Last semester I took Opera and Its Audiences – a fascinating class. And I really loved my poetry and modern dance classes,” she added. “It’s all about adding to my artistic enrichment as a musician. These opportunities have inspired me in ways I don’t always realize.”
There are also practical reasons to take non-music courses at CWRU. Janice Lee, a violin student of Ivan Zenaty, took Chinese.
“Having skills outside of the realm of music can give you an edge when you least expect it and prepare you for new opportunities for the future,” she explained. “I already speak the language, but I wanted to improve my reading and writing abilities because it opens the possibilities of someday working in China or Taiwan.”
“Our musicianship can only be enhanced by exploring outside interests,” she added.
Leaders in Performance and Academia
The faculties at both institutions are world-renowned. CIM’s acclaimed faculty, including all the principals of The Cleveland Orchestra, approach music from the perspective of performance. CWRU faculty members bring a historical, scholarly approach to music.
Robert Walser, Professor and Director of CWRU’s Center for Popular Music Studies, is delighted to have CIM students in his classes. “They bring valuable perspectives to the mix,” he explained. “I earned doctoral degrees in both musicology and performance, so I’m always interested in bringing those two fields into productive dialogues. Having CIM students in my class helps me to do that.”
“Musicologists ask us about our work in the context of performance,” Morrison said. “And then we in turn get their perspective of a work from a cultural and historical standpoint. We get a full circle view of a piece this way. It gives both sets of students a greater understanding.”
CIM student Ryan Finefrock takes Walser’s Pop Music & Gender class with Morrison at CWRU. “Walser is one of the leading scholars in his field, and he’s a distinguished author on the topic,” Finefrock said. “I’m studying with the man who literally wrote the book. It’s pretty incredible to have access to faculty members of his caliber and to [Musicology Professor and MacArthur Fellow] Susan McClary, as well.” As a performer, Finefrock studies with Cleveland Orchestra principal bassoonist John Clouser, and recognizes how lucky he is to study with leaders in both academia and performance.
Joint Performance Opportunities
The Joint Music Program allows CIM and CWRU students to share much more than the classroom experience. The schools also have joint performance ensembles.
Finefrock has made connections with specialists in early music. “Last semester I had oboist Debra Nagy as a chamber coach,” he said. “She’s extremely well known in the Baroque world. It’s pretty amazing that we have access to a Baroque specialist at CIM. I’ve had the ability to learn and study with other bassoonists who are historical performance majors at CWRU.”
CWRU’s Baroque Ensemble includes many CIM students. According to Daly, the exposure to early music has been life changing for some at CIM.
“We’ve had students who have gone abroad to study early music as a direct result of their involvement at CWRU,” he said.
Another shared ensemble, the University Circle Wind Ensemble, led by Gary Ciepluch, performs in both CIM and CWRU venues, as well as in Severance Hall, home of The Cleveland Orchestra.
Three years ago, CIM and CWRU, in partnership with the Cleveland Museum of Art, began a series of free concerts in the galleries, providing yet another opportunity for performance among the students.
Growing a Social Network
“I enjoy getting outside the walls of CIM for classes,” Morrison said.“Obviously it expands my world academically and musically, but also socially.” In addition to making non-musical friends, Morrison is pleased she has been able to expand her musical circle beyond the boundaries of classical music. “I have a friend who specializes in Disney music and how it impacts today’s society,” she explained. “It’s really opened my eyes to different areas of musical study that I didn’t realize were out there.”
“I’ve encouraged other students to meet as many new people and have as many new experiences as possible,” she continued. Echoing the thoughts of Lee, “Not everyone has the opportunities that we have here at CIM with CWRU and it’d be silly not to take advantage of them.”
If you would like to know more about the Joint Music Program, the requirements for a dual degree, or any of CIM’s curriculum, please contact the CIM Admissions Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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