[Smt-talk] Teaching for free

Victor grauer victorag at verizon.net
Sun Jun 30 12:05:54 PDT 2013

Dear Colleagues,

For some time now I've found myself discouraging young people from 
playing the "financial aid" game when applying to colleges and 
universities, urging them to find some alternative route to learning 
what they want or need to learn, because, what with sky high tuition 
coupled with horrific burdens of debt, higher education is becoming 
more and more of an outrageous scam with each passing year. Now, with 
the unconscionable doubling of the rate for federally funded loans on 
the horizon, the situation must be described as nothing short of dire.

I really don't know what to tell students primarily interested in the 
vocational side of higher ed, because 1. I don't see that as in 
itself a very rewarding pursuit and 2. there are no jobs out there 
anyhow, regardless of whether you have a business, engineering, 
anthropology or, God help you, music degree.

But lately I've been asking myself a very pertinent question: what 
can I do? And each time I ask myself this question, I get the same 
answer: you have a Ph. D. in music composition and theory, you have 
years of teaching experience in these areas, you are now retired, 
with some free time on your hands . . . so why not offer your 
services free of charge to young people (or old people for that 
matter) with a strong desire to learn more about music, who cannot 
any longer afford any of the established higher ed venues, and don't 
want to place themselves in indentured servitude for the rest of their lives?

And I'm wondering whether anyone else out there in SMT land might be 
thinking along the same lines. Yes, I know, there are some "free 
universities" out there, but I haven't yet found one I could easily 
fit into. What I've found so far was some group in NYC that looks 
like more of a protest group than a real university, and another 
online "free university" that offers classes only in business and 
computer science.

So I'm wondering whether a group of us along with our colleagues in 
other academic fields might want to work together to start something 
more like a real university, not necessarily limited to music, but 
possibly starting out with it. And, of course, free. What I have in 
mind could involve "live" classes in some local venue, e.g., a public 
library or recreation center, or online classes, via software such as 
Finale or Print Music or Sibelius, etc., or ideally both live and/or 
online, depending on the location of the student. As I see it, the 
only costs would be some publicity to get things started, and then 
lots and lots of patience until things finally got rolling. I know 
for a fact that there are many people out there with a strong 
interest in music and a real desire to learn more about how it works 
and what can be done with it beyond the usual rocking, hipping and 
hopping, but without the means to pursue that interest.

So, I'm wondering what others on this list might think and if any 
others might be interested in working with me on this. And also 
whether any of you know of anything similar already under way that I 
and others like me could get involved with.


Victor Grauer
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

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