• Jeffrey Nytch

It's What if Wednesday!

It's time for the next installment in our weekly series, "What if Wednesday," in which we pose provocative questions about music higher education. Have a question you'd like to pose? Send me a message!

In the same vein of forced change I talked about last week, let me offer another change that would force us to evolve: What if we froze hiring and reduced teaching loads by 25%? I’m not talking about when the bean counters upstairs decide we can do the same amount of work (or more) with fewer staff and fewer resources. Nor am I talking about what would happen if we could magically turn the inherently inefficient process of teaching music students into an efficient and scalable factory. What I’m talking about is this: With greater constraints on our capacity, how would we do things differently? AND, rather than focus on what we lose in such a scenario, what if we focused on what we might gain? How might the student experience change for the better? What might be gained by having more group study? What might be gained by our school only offering instruction in a subset of instruments rather than every instrument under the sun? Because if we pull back and look at the big picture of where higher education is headed, it’s a reasonable assumption that hiring freezes and cuts in faculty are coming our way. What if, rather than viewing that prospect with fear and entrenchment, we started to ask ourselves what opportunities such a future might offer? What if looking ahead in this way inspired the kind of positive urgency I spoke about at the beginning of this session? How could we turn the lemons of reduced resources into a tasty and nutritious lemonade for our students?

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