The new director of the School of Music on diversifying music education, new career paths for graduates, and her own inauspicious start with the flute.
When most people think of a music composer, Tracy Doyle knows they usually think of a European white male. But she also understands how limiting that presumption can be. So, since starting as director of the School of Music last July, she has helped expand the school’s efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Historically speaking, it’s been hard for people to step away from the European art-music canon,” says Doyle, 51, an accomplished flutist who came to her position from Adams State University in Colorado. “But we’ve been taking a closer look at who is missing from music history, and whose voices are not heard.”
Q: What trend in music education excites you the most?
A: K-12 educators are recognizing that not all students take part in band, choir, and orchestra. In fact, the vast majority don’t. And yet there are so many people who still want to create music. As opposed to the ivory tower approach, where classical music is in this silo and popular music is in this other silo, we recognize there are multiple entryways to music.
Q: Which trends concern you the most?
A: In higher education, we’re dealing with a conservatory style of education that hasn’t changed in centuries. And the history of European classical music is full of systemic racism; it’s been exclusionary. Now we’re looking at our curriculum through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Q: Got an example of that exclusionism?
A: If you can’t afford an instrument or private lessons, it might be hard for you to study music in college. Representation also matters: Children grow up not seeing representation in the people who are creating and performing music, and it’s not because those people aren’t there. We need to amplify those voices. There’s so much incredible music by women and composers of color. That needs to become the norm, instead of doing one concert for Black History Month.