This is not a document with a single author. Rather, it is a call to action derived from the 2017 Yale Symposium on Music in Schools, held at the Yale School of Music June 15-17, 2017. We are honored to recognize the influence of the symposium’s forty-three participants—before, during, and after the event including ten Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award recipients who represent exemplary city music programs. We also invited leaders from across urban music ecosystems: music education scholars, foundation leaders, district music supervisors, city superintendents, individuals with expertise in urban affairs and political action, and leaders of non-profit music organizations that provide services to city children. To a person, each participant has helped shape the declaration as it stands today. The Yale School of Music is indebted to each of these remarkable individuals whose passion for the lives of students in underserved communities across America will have lasting impact.
Visionary Funding for the Declaration and the Symposium
In 2007, the Yale College Class of 1957 gave a substantial part of its fiftieth reunion class gift to the Yale School of Music to establish an endowment that has supported the creation and dissemination of the Declaration on Equity in Music for City Students. The class’s visionary gift has allowed the School of Music to create the Music in Schools Initiative—a partnership with New Haven public schools in which graduate-student teaching artists complement the work of New Haven public school music teachers to create in-school and after-school programs that serve more than 1,000 New Haven students. It has also allowed the School to host a visiting faculty member in community engagement. Finally, it has brought us to a point where the biennial Symposium on Music in Schools may enter the national conversation on the role that music should play in America’s schools. A committee of the Class of 1957, led by Dr. Stephen Wittenberg, serves as an informal advisory panel to the school as it has shaped the programs of the Music in Schools Initiative. This remarkable group deserves much credit for the work seen in this document: its members have made a lasting positive impact on the role that music plays for children throughout America.
Yale School of Music Symposium Leadership
Just as this declaration is not the work of a single author, it is also not the product of a single person. Michael Yaffe, Associate Dean of the School of Music, has spearheaded this project, and his vision has been the driving force behind the symposium and declaration.
We are also deeply grateful to Rubén Rodríguez, the director of the Music in Schools Initiative’s New Haven programs, for being the conscience behind the declaration. His deep understanding of human dignity and passion for the role that music plays in the lives of the children of New Haven have inspired us to turn our local work into a national discussion.
Rachel Glodo, Assistant to the Associate Dean, has been the primary writer and editor of this document. Her commitment to this difficult task—from initial research and drafting, to sifting through the ideas of nearly fifty experts with differing points of view—has been remarkable. She also managed the symposium to great success.
We must also recognize Robert Blocker, the Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music, who has nurtured and supported the Music in Schools Initiative since he first discussed the major gift with the Class of 1957. His broad vision of cultural leadership and music as a child’s birthright has shaped the direction of the program since its inception.
We also thank David Brensilver, Yale School of Music Communications Officer, for his editorial skills; Katie Kelley, the School’s Design Manager, for the design of this document; Gail Yaffe, for proofing these pages; Mackenzie Dilbeck, Director of Communications, for guidance throughout the publishing process; Lauren Schiffer, Assistant to the Deputy Dean, and Esther Woo, Assistant to the Music in Schools Initiative, for their excellent notes at the symposium; and Jocelyn Hernandez, Summer Intern at the School of Music (and graduate of our New Haven programs), for ensuring that the symposium ran smoothly.