professor of music at San Francisco State University since 1973
and president, from 1996 to 1998, of the National Association for
Music Education (MENC), the largest arts organization in the world,
Carolynn Lindeman '62 currently serves on the board of directors for
the International Society for Music Education. She has written more
than 50 articles on music education and women composers as well as
several books, including The Musical Classroom: Backgrounds,
Models and Skills for Elementary Teaching. Just this April,
she led a delegation of U.S. music educators to Cuba the first
cultural exchange of its kind to discuss and compare music
education. She is married to Alfred Lindeman '62 and has a son, David.
Since being named in October to the President's Advisory Committee
on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
Lindeman also now has the distinction of being the sole music professor
on the 85-member committee.
In appointing Carolynn Lindeman to the Kennedy Center's advisory committee
on the arts, former President Bill Clinton officially acknowledged
what elementary school children in Commack, New York, already learned
in the early 1960s. Lindeman is a passionate advocate for music education.
Since her days teaching music at the Long Island school (Lindeman's
first job upon graduating) her contributions to music education have
been considerable. Foremost among them: helping to write the National
Standards for Music Education. An effort to raise the level of music
education in every state, the national standards are a development
that many in the field believe is the most important since Lowell
Mason introduced music into the Boston public schools in 1838.
At every turn, Lindeman communicates with passion, something that
was irrepressible during a recent discussion about her career as an
"ambassador" for music, and how Oberlin, the first conservatory
in the world to award a degree in what was then known as public-school
music, prepared her for her life's work.
One tends to think of the Kennedy Center as a performance venue
and for its partnerships with such places as the Lincoln Center or
Wolftrap. How does the center contribute to music education and what
is its advisory committee on the arts charged with?
CL: The Kennedy Center
has an education department that not only gives performances
accompanied by teacher guides for children at the center, but
it also has touring performances that reach many states. The committee
provides advice about such outreach, raises funds, and advises the
center's board of trustees.
What unique perspectives and strengths do you bring to the committee
as music education's only representative?
people at this level often have a great interest in music, they might
have misconceptions about what constitutes a quality music-education
or school-music program. Some think exposure is all that is necessary
that having children attend concerts or visit museums is enough.
A comprehensive, sequential music education led by qualified music
teachers needs to take place in the schools. The Kennedy Center and
other performing organizations play wonderful complementary roles
but not primary roles in educating our young people
As one deeply involved not only in K-12 music education, but also
in music teacher education, I will speak up about appropriate
and inappropriate current or proposed educational activities
at the Kennedy Center, and suggest that the national standards should
inform the center's educational activities. I also hope that I can
encourage the committee to take a more active role in advocacy efforts
regarding strong school music programs.
Why is music education so important to you?
was an MENC slogan back in the early 1920s, when Karl Gehrkens, a
renowned Oberlin professor, was the MENC president: "music for
every child and every child for music." This says it all. I believe
that every child should have access to a quality music education,
should grow up cul-turally literate, and should study music just as
he or she studies any other basic subject.
What were your own musical influences growing up?
CL: My mother
taught music in the public schools and piano privately. She started
me on piano and violin. We lived in a very small town, Port Allegany,
Pennsylvania. My parents, knowing that a fine teacher was the key
to my success, drove me on Saturdays to Olean, New York more
than an hour away for private piano lessons. And while this
certainly had to be a terrible inconvenience in their lives, off we
went, every Saturday. I will be forever grateful that they cared that
The music program throughout my school years was also very strong.
We had classroom music, instrumental instruction, and choruses. At
the secondary level, I was in band, choir, and orchestra.
When did you know that music would be your life's work?
CL: I always
knew, and so did my mother, that I would study music in college. She
would mention the very best schools (Oberlin was, of course, on that
list), and she made me believe that I would be good enough for any
of them. When I gained early admission to Oberlin, we were all thrilled
because this was exactly what I wanted.
When I began my theory and ear training courses, I truly wondered
if I would make it. I remember calling my parents and crying about
how difficult theory was. My Dad said, "Honey, if that school
is not good enough for you, we'll find another." That sort of
says it all about the wonderful parental support I was privileged
to have in my Dad's view, I couldn't be doing anything wrong,
it had to be the school.
You met your husband at Oberlin. Besides introducing you to the
love of your life, how else did Oberlin play a hand in your career?
prepared me in every way for my career. Oberlin has the finest teachers,
not to mention a solid, comprehensive program. The Dalcroze eurythmics
requirement was one of the highlights. I was also extraordinarily
blessed to study in Salzburg during my junior year. For someone who
came from a small town, that experience was an eye-opener.
I also got my start in MENC at Oberlin; I served as an officer in
Oberlin's collegiate chapter. I learned early on how helpful and stimulating
it is to be connected with others working toward the same goals.
What is the biggest challenge facing music education today?
huge music-teacher shortage! We simply do not have enough teachers
to fill the positions. In states like mine, California, emergency
credentials are being issued to anyone who breathes. This is an enormous
problem, because an unprepared music teacher can spell the end to
a school music program.
Are there any signs of hope?
legislation passed in 1994 declared music and the other arts to be
core academic subjects. This official declaration, plus the establishment
of the national standards, gives music education more curricular clout
than it has had in decades. States are adopting the standards, and
will soon assess student achievement in meeting them. Gallup polls
conducted regularly over the past few years indicate that the American
public wants music to be part of the curriculum, and believes it should
Do you have any advice for music-education majors?
your own passion and love for music and teaching! This is the most
important thing you can do to inspire students. Enjoy every minute
of your time at Oberlin it is the most fabulous place in the
world to live and breathe music, day in and day out. Prepare yourself
well as a musician and I don't just mean in your primary performance
area. To teach tomorrow's children, we need teachers who are comprehensive
musicians ones with the whole package: great musical skills,
a broad knowledge of history and theory, and a solid background on
how to convey that knowledge to others.