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In the last four decades, the ways through which people produce, consume, enjoy, express, and understand music have changed dramatically. Digital technologies have transformed the nature of musical products, processes, and delivery systems opening new creative possibilities. Unprecedented accessibility to musics from throughout the world community have generated new musical forms and creative fusions in a constantly changing musical landscape. Technological, intellectual, social and cultural transformations have given rise to innovative modes of expression and a previously unimagined diversity of musical practices.  Important new insights into how music is learned, both formally and informally, have been provided by the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and sociology. The disciplines of musicology and ethnomusicology have provided and expanded the array of musics worthy of study. These changes in music and the way it is learned are creating enormous challenges for music educators around the world.

During these four decades, especially in the United States, conditions in public schools have presented many additional challenges for music teachers. In many schools, music programs have been significantly curtailed and in some cases eliminated, especially in urban and rural schools.  Factors contributing to this demise include an excessive emphasis on high stakes testing, budget decreases due to tax limitation laws, and a general lack of understanding of the importance of the arts in education. Teacher recruitment and retention have also become very serious problems.

At the same time, changing demographics of student populations, especially in urban schools, have raised serious questions regarding the efficacy of traditional approaches to music education.  There is also a question of the effectiveness of music teacher preparation programs to meet the demands of an evolving musical society. Further, the continued education of music teachers is of concern as access to professional development programs and the mentorship of new music teachers is often inadequate.

In June of 2007, an international group of distinguished music educators, performers, researchers and scholars from a variety of fields assembled to examine the issues posed by these enormous changes. This symposium, Tanglewood II—Charting the Future, was conducted in the spirit of the groundbreaking Tanglewood Symposium of 1967, but was decidedly and substantially of the 21st century. The Tanglewood II Symposium sought to examine the challenges that these changes and conditions pose to the practice and instruction of music.

The principles articulated in this declaration, reflecting a consensus of the symposium members, are intended to stimulate dialogue at all levels of society and assist in the process of charting a new, dynamic and challenging path for music in the 21st century.  Although some of these statements are perennial, they must take on new understandings and serve as a clarion call for radical change.

1.  Humans and Music.  Humans are inherently musical.  Music serves to connect people to one another within and across communities.  Without musical engagement, the development of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life will be greatly impoverished. Vision.

2.  Music and Meaning.Music is a powerful mode of human expression through which people create individual, cultural and social meanings.  The full force of recognition comes when meaning is integrated with teaching skills and knowledge. Vision.

3.  Development of Musicianship.  A major purpose of music education is to validate the many forms of music making found in local communities and to prepare students to take their place in a globalized cultural environment.  Therefore, in the preparation of music teachers, musicianship needs to be conceived broadly as the ability to perform, compose, arrange, improvise, and understand a broad array of repertoires and expressions. Vision.

4.  Quality of Musical Experience. A primary issue in music leaning is the quality of the experience. Quality musical experiences are the result of developing skills infused with creativity, critical thinking, imagination, artistic sensibility, and passion.  They should be engaging and personally relevant to the student and fulfilling for the teacher. Vision.

5.  Equity and Access.  A society is best served when resources are distributed equitably and fairly.  All persons are entitled to musical instruction and participation regardless of age, religion, class, nationality, race, ethnicity, disability, culture, gender and sexual orientation, and residence. It is incumbent upon the profession to work toward such equity and access. Vision.

6. Curricular Change and Innovation.  Cultural meanings and values are embedded in every aspect of the teaching/learning process.  Curriculum is constantly evolving to meet community and student needs, and should reflect a balance between established traditions and innovations. Vision.

7. Research Relevance.  Findings in many academic fields, related directly to education and outside its traditional purview, broaden and deepen our understandings of teaching and learning.  Research in the cognitive sciences, sociology, and other studies like musicology and ethnomusicology, are of particular importance to music education processes. Vision.

8.  Music Faculty Responsibilities.  All music faculty in institutions of higher education share the responsibility for nurturing and encouraging the development of a broad musicianship in all of their students, especially those preparing for teaching careers. Vision.

9.  Admissions and Graduation Requirements.  Admission standards and graduation requirements for music education students should  take account of the broadest view of intellectual, academic, and musical skills and competencies.  Less traditional qualifications can prove invaluable in the vast array of learning environments in which they will teach. Vision.

10.  Mentorship and Professional Development.  The first years of a beginning teacher’s career are crucial for retention and professional development.  School districts, universities, and the profession must provide the time and resources to support mentoring relationships. Vision.

Improvement in music learning and teaching will come about when all stakeholders take upon themselves the responsibility to critically assess current practice and develop appropriate action plans to effect necessary changes.  Professional and accrediting organizations, universities, and Pk-12 schools must encourage and implement policy, curricular, and pedagogical innovations, which will engage all children as musicians. The principles articulated in this declaration are intended to stimulate dialogue at all levels of society and assist in the process of charting a new, dynamic and challenging path for music in the 21st century.