Contemporary Concert Music in the Public School Music Curriculum

Composer Joan Tower, 1993 Participant
Joan Tower-hinesmusic.com

From the Greenfield Recorder, Greenfield, Massachusetts; June 6, 1994:
Ask anyone on the street to name a famous music composer and you'll most likely get answers like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. All amazing composers, yet all males.

Edward Hines, a music teacher at the Rowe, Erving and Sunderland Elementary Schools is trying to add some females to the list.

Students from Hines' fourth, fifth and sixth grade classes were featured in a nationwide radio broadcast discussing "Music by Living Women Composers," a special class at the schools designed by Hines. Over 160 stations, including WFCR in Amherst, carried the program.

In Hines' class, students hear newly composed music, learn how professional composers start their careers, and see women, a minority in the composing world, are a thriving force in contemporary art music. "It occurred to me that over the years most of the music I have brought to my classes has been by the guys...the dead guys," commented Hines. "I just felt it was time for a change."

Each student involved in the special class was asked to write to a female composer to ask if she would like to participate by donating an original score and tape (recording). The students then listened to the tapes at home, read materials and prepared reports for the class.


Composer Deborah Kavasch, 1993 Participant
Deborah Kavasch-hinesmusic.com
Listen to the 1994 broadcast of Music by Women Composers, presented on NPR's Performance Today.
Winner of a 1995 Associated Press award for broadcast journalism and reported by Charlene Scott of WFCR, Amherst, Massachusetts.


Composer Marta Ptaszynska, 2003 Participant
Marta Ptaszynska-hinesmusic.com
During the 2003-04 school year, we revisited the music of living women composers. Students at the Sunderland, Erving and Swift River Schools in Western Massachusetts wrote to approximately 100 composers at colleges and universities across the United States requesting audio and written samples of their original compositions.

Approximately 40 composers donated materials to the project. Without question, the quality of the work we reviewed was superior to the material we received ten years earlier. In the 1993-94 unit, many scores were reproductions of handwritten originals; in the 2003-04 unit, virtually all were engraved prints. The 1993-94 unit included a majority of tapes, many of which were recordings of live performances. There were a few CDs and LPs. The 2003-04 unit included a majority of professional CD recordings and only 1 tape.

The most profound difference between the two collections is in the quality of the actual compositions. The 2003-04 collection is highlighted by the large number of well written musical works. The artists show great confidence in this collection of music. There is a wide variety of styles, colors and approaches to musical composition. The form, instrumentation, and overall feeling of the material is in contrast to the earlier collection and makes it an important representation of excellent concert music from the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

In the classroom, students (ages 10-12) were very open to hearing new concert works for the first time and then participating in critical discussions. With television, videos, video games, CDs and digital downloads, the amount and variety of sounds children are now exposed to is greater than ever. In general, the kids were able to review each work with ease and comfort, and were able to express why they enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) any particular sample.

Many thanks to the following composers for their donations to the 2003-04 collection: Elaine Aberdam, Elinor Armer, Jennifer Barker, Elaine Bearer, Jane Ira Bloom, Kitty Brazelton, Elissa Brill, Andrea Clearfield, Teresa Davidian, Tamar Diesendruck, Marti Epstein, Nancy Galbraith, Stacy Garrop, Jennifer Higdon, Deborah Kavasch, Anne Kilstofte, Joan LaBarbara, Frances McKay, Elizabeth McNutt, Margarita Merriman, Joyce Soloman Moorman, Erica Muhl, Carol Nicholeris, Pauline Oliveros, Marta Ptaszynska, Julieanne Rabens, Patricia Ann Repar, Jenna Root, Elena Ruehr, Elizabeth Sellers, Sharon Shaheen, Judith Shatin, Williametta Spencer, Marilyn Taft Thomas, Diane Thome, Mary Jeanne van Appledorn, Mary Ann Joyce Walter, Annliese Weibel, Barbara White, Chen Yi.

Archived at the Sibley Music Library of the Eastman School of Music.
Women Composers Collection 1993
Women Composers Collection 2003