research & issues in music education
I’m having difficulty believing that I’m writing notes for the tenth anniversary issue of Research and Issues in Music Education. What began as an experiment a dozen plus years ago seems to have caught on, and I’m grateful for our editorial board, web managers, contributors and to our readership—all of whom have made this possible. It’s been quite a decade and I’m looking forward to seeing where the next one takes us.
I’ve been especially pleased over these years with the variety of article topics and methodologies as well as the backgrounds and experiences of the authors of the published articles, and this tenth issue is no exception. Jennifer Bugos and Edward Jacobs examine composition instruction; Carol Shansky addresses spirituality and synagogue music; Jill Wilson investigates preferences and attitudes toward treble choral ensembles; and Debbie Rohwer and Mark Rohwer investigate participants’ views of community music in Welsh men’s choirs. These articles represent a rich spectrum, and with one of my goals in initiating RIME being to launch a journal that would also attract a broad audience outside of music education, I think we’ve done a good job of it.
This edition of RIME also has a new feature—our first book review—in the form of an excellent assessment of MENC Handbook of Research on Music Learning, ed. Richard Colwell and Peter Webster (vols 1 & 2) by Nathan Buonviri. The handbooks, beginning with Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning (Schirmer, 1992) edited by Colwell, and The New Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning (Oxford University Press, 2002) edited by Colwell and Carol Richardson are by now well known to music educators, and this latest rendition co-edited with Peter Webster sets the tone for the next stage of strategies and applications within the field.
Technically, this 10th volume of RIME has a second new departure for us in the form of a reprinted article, which, like the review, is our first—and is a piece I did on Himie Voxman for The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education sixteen years ago. Although Voxman had retired a decade before I arrived on the University of Iowa campus as a doctoral student in 1992, he still maintained an office in what would later be named the Voxman Music Building, and was still active as a private teacher, author, composer, clarinetist and arranger. I was grateful to get to know him after years of studying and teaching from his publications, especially the various Rubank books, and was pleased when he agreed to be the subject of an independent study paper under Ken Phillips’s advisement. Interviewing Voxman over several months at his home and university offices—along with conversations with many of his former students across the country—resulted in the documentation of one of the stellar music educators of the twentieth century. With the story unfolding about a boy who took up the clarinet as a rural Iowa twelve-year-old and finding his career as a movie-theater pit orchestra musician thwarted by the invention of “talkies,” Voxman recounted the steps he found himself taking in a life of teaching, performing, researching, re-imagining instrumental publications, and finally in leading a major school of music.
Interviewing and writing about Voxman was no easy task however. While he was certainly helpful, he didn’t see much of a reason to broadcast his life and history. In fact, he came up with several other topics that I should have been researching instead of him. Fortunately, he agreed to the study, and where he was hesitant to call attention to himself, a plethora of his former students were eager to fill in the details—all of whom were careful to tell me that above Voxman’s musical, teaching, research and administrative skills, it was his caring, gracious personality that they remembered. And indeed, it was probably these attributes that sustained Voxman’s influence on music education—in all facets, not just with those musicians who are “official” music educators.
Now, with Voxman’s passing this past November, Mark Fonder, editor of the Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, was pleased to grant us permission to republish the article in this tenth anniversary issue of Research and Issues in Music Education. I think this is a fitting tribute to Voxman who would have turned 100 this past June. In this republication, I decided to publish the article without making any updates or changes, although many of the interviewees’ bios could be added to considerably—and in fact, all of these individuals could be subjects of studies on their own. I even left my professional address as Chicago’s Sherwood Conservatory, with the intent of passing on all information to the next historian. The only thing I would change in the article is that I believe that many other kinds of music teachers have been impacted by Voxman—not just instrumentalists as I indicate in the first line.
With this, I dedicate this tenth anniversary issue of Research and Issues in Music Education to the work, life and memory of Himie Voxman.