Bringing Integrity to Music Education Leadership

Music education has increasingly faced challenges associated with corporatization and commercialization, both within our educational institutions and professional organizations. As one reflects on various high-profile controversies that have impacted our field in recent years, it seems increasingly clear that more must be done to ensure integrity is maintained in leadership within the field of music education.

Such problems can be minimized if music teachers and students will embrace their responsibility to be vigilant critical thinkers and insist on attaining space for open democratic forums in which difficult questions may be raised to those in positions of leadership. Certain key questions come to mind that require careful consideration whenever we are faced with a new music education initiative:

1) Does this initiative provide maximum benefit to students in terms of quality musical experiences?

2) If money is involved, exactly how will the money be used and how can this be verified?

3) Are there additional conflicting agendas associated with this initiative, besides musical benefit to students, that might be cause for concern? (e.g. opportunities for executives to attain the favor of politicians or CEOs of major corporations, to profit from stock options, to promote themselves, or to sell additional products, etc.)

In recent years, professional organizations and educational institutions have increasingly focused their attention on marketing and profits, while important decisions are made behind closed doors without opportunities for open discussion. Leadership with integrity is difficult, and it is usually impossible for a leader to please all members of an organization. But while democratic processes may be imperfect and inefficient, they are essential in order to ensure that egalitarian empowerment is maximized while corruption is minimized.

I have been quite impressed so far with the forms of democracy I am experiencing in Finland. It is refreshing to see egalitarian opportunities for candid and transparent discussion regarding new initiatives in educational contexts, and there is clearly a focus on the noble objective of maximum benefit to students. Perhaps this is why Finland has consistently received some of the world’s highest (positive) ratings on international perceptions of corruption: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_rankings_of_Finland


Sony Responds to Nokia

A major shift in the global music industry is now taking place.

Just weeks after Finland’s Nokia announced that it will offer unlimited music downloads on its new mobile phones, Japan’s Sony has responded with the same offer:


History may show that these decisions will have important implications for music consumption throughout the world.



Two New Projects

Two new music projects are online now:

Boston Hybrid Musics website displays findings from a graduate seminar research project in 2008. A few more media files still need to be added, but the main content is all currently available.

Also, I have been developing the new website for the International Society for Philosophy of Music Education (ISPME), which will have its next symposium at the Sibelius Academy in 2010.



Singing in Finland

Today I auditioned and accepted the honor of joining one of Finland’s leading choirs, Kampin Laulu.

Here is a link to their website:


Choral music is quite popular in Finland and other nations in the Nordic and Baltic region. I hope through this experience to learn more about the role of choirs in Finnish community life and in the construction of national musical culture, and of course, to enjoy making some great music as well.


Music News from Finland

Below are three rather important news stories:

(1) Nokia, Finland’s largest company (and the world’s largest mobile phone maker), has announced that it will offer free and unlimited music downloads as well as discounts on its latest mobile phones. This unprecedented development is likely to have a significant impact on the global music industry.



(2) The new Helsinki Music Centre has now received a commitment of additional support from philanthropic foundations (millions of Euros) and construction is proceeding as scheduled at a prominent site across the street from Finland’s House of Parliament. Starting in 2011, the Sibelius Academy will be housed in the new centre, and the space will also be used for concerts of both the Finnish Radio Orchestra and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.


(3) The Sibelius Academy has entered into a unique partnership with El Sistema, Venezuela’s renowned music education system.


These are exciting times in Finland, a nation that is notable for both music and education. Here is a link to my new homepage at the Sibelius Academy Music Education Department: