New York University has announced a suspension of admissions to their undergraduate music education program, as reported by Inside Higher Ed on December 19th. Marilyn Nonken, the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions chair, stated that the purpose of the suspension is to “rework the undergraduate curriculum,” which currently includes courses in classical music, pop music, music technology, and jazz theory. Although the music education program has a history of changing its curriculum, this is the first time in their history that they have paused admissions to do so.
Current students were reassured that the pause would not impact their ability to graduate, but many remain concerned about the fate of the mentorship model. The mentorship model, in which students coach younger undergraduate students to practice leading larger ensembles, is a vital portion of NYU’s music education program, and a lack of an incoming class would pose a significant barrier to the practice.
Alarmed by the lack of transparency and communication regarding the change, students have protested against the executive decision, asking MPAP administrators to reverse the decision. A virtual meeting was held on November 17th to answer questions, during which participants asked why administrators felt the need to change what students felt to be a rewarding and challenging curriculum.
Nonken answered that the changes to the curriculum were not decided yet. She also pointed to a “lack of resources” as one of the music education program’s biggest challenges, as the program’s full-time faculty has decreased from four to two in the last few years. According to Nonken, the official changes to the curriculum will be determined during the pause in admissions.
Despite the administration’s emphasis that the program “is changing — not disappearing,” many questions concerning the length of the suspension or the solution to the mentorship model, still remain to be answered.